Grand Strand hospital sees spikes in flu cases

Grand Strand hospital sees spikes in flu cases

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Following Thanksgiving, Grand Strand Medical Center saw a spike in flu cases. About 20 cases were treated in one week.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the current shot may not be a perfect match for the strain going around, H3N2. This strain often has more severe symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths.

The last time we saw this strain hit was 2012-2013. And the past three seasons we saw the H3N2 strain, those years had the highest mortality levels in the past decade, according to the CDC.

It's not uncommon for the strain to change from year to year, but CDC officials say it's also not unusual for the effectiveness of the flu vaccine to also range widely from season to season.

"We watch these strains or CDC watches these strains over the years. The year before last is when we saw this before and when this strain comes along it tends to be a more severe illness so we're concerned that we may see increased activity this year," said Winona McLamb, the Infection Preventionist at Grand Strand Medical Center.

The current shot that is out there right now may have a tough time fighting against this one strain that seems to be morphing. But doctors want you to remember, the shots are designed to fight against multiple strains that could hit. Since the end of September, South Carolina DHEC has seen the most flu cases in Horry County. And 65 percent of these flu cases in the state are the H3N2 strain. Despite that news, the CDC still urges you get the shot immediately. When you get the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for it to be fully effective in your body.

McLamb says you still have about a 50-50 chance of being protected from this severe H3N2 strain with this year's shot. "We still encourage people to take the vaccine. It's very important that you go ahead and do that even with the one that is not as affective against, you still may have a less severe illness," says McLamb.

And if you do get hit with the flu, you need immediate treatment with antiviral drugs, like Tamiflu. Or you should consider hospitalization if you're at high risk of complications.

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