MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach and Florence rank in the top ten of the nation right now in flu activity. That's according to the Walgreens Flu Index, a weekly updated report developed to provide more accurate information for market areas with twenty or more Walgreens stores. The index shows flu activity soared in southern regions of the United States from east to west this past week. Myrtle Beach and Florence had so much flu activity, South Carolina as a whole was ranked eighth in the nation because of that area.
The Center for Disease Control says the United States has seen increased flu cases during week seven of this year (Feb. 14 - Feb.20, 2016). South Carolina's DHEC reports doubled diagnosed cases of the flu during week seven compared to week five. During week five, 795 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza were reported in 30 South Carolina counties. Week seven had reports of 2,413 confirmed cases in 35 counties.
Walgreens says the flu index is a helpful measure because it provides the most accurate and recent data showing presence of the flu. That way, Walgreens says, added preventive measures can be taken to help stop further spread of the illness. The index is based on Tamiflu and other antiviral medication sales common for flu treatment. The data doesn't include markets with fewer than 10 Walgreens.
The CDC says not everyone with the flu will have a fever. Common symptoms are similar to those of a bad cold like a fever, runny nose, cold chills and body aches. Doctors say sometimes an antiviral isn't even necessary. Rest and fever-reducing medicine can fight the illness. It's the 'emergency flu' symptoms you need to look out for. In adults this can include dizziness, confusion, and/or persistent vomiting. In children and infants, look for bluish skin color, fast breathing, fever with a rash or trouble waking up. For a full list of emergency flu symptoms click here. It's important that pregnant women go to the doctor at the first symptom of the flu - emergency or not.
A common misconception is getting the flu vaccine or nasal spray can make you sick. The CDC and DHEC say getting the flu shot or nasal spray is the best way to prevent getting sick and suggests everyone six months and older receive the medicine. Side effects are mild. Muscle soreness and redness are the most common side effects, allergic reactions are rare.
The CDC says the flu is always unpredictable and can hit at any time. So to stay healthy wash your hands, get sleep, disinfect your home and if you don't feel well, stay home! The flu is highly contagious. Using a sauna or exercising while sick can make you worse, too.