HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Cases of flu are on the rise in Horry County, and that includes students.
Tammy Melgar, a physician assistant at South Strand Internists and Urgent Care, said there have been more than 50 cases of the flu since Jan. 1. Of that, more than half have been students in middle and high school, she added.
"Amazing, I've never seen it like this in my whole career and I've been practicing medicine for 14 years," Melgar said.
Teal Harding, spokesperson for Horry County Schools, said at this time the district is not connecting absences with a specific illness.
However, Melgar said she's seen some very concerned parents over the last couple of weeks.
"Yeah, they really are they are freaking out. They are like, 'What's wrong with my kid?' I can't believe it. You know they've already missed three or four days last week and I sent her back to school,'" she said.
According to Melgar, students are going back to school too soon. She said she saw just such a case on Monday, with a patient who had recently missed around four days of school but was in the doctor's officer with 103.4-degree fever.
Melgar said this isn't reserved for just the flu. Patients who took the chance of going back to work or school are returning with other viruses like strep throat, pneumonia and even mono.
"Now, I wrote her a note for five days," Melgar said of her Monday patient. "I said she probably had the flu. We tested her, she had the flu. So she's out now for another five days. And on top of that, she had strep."
Melgar said the rise in flu cases can partially be attributed to people not getting their flu shot and forgetting these types of viruses are airborne and highly contagious.
She is urging all parents to reiterate the importance of keeping mouths covered when coughing or sneezing, and thoroughly washing the hands.
"If your child is sick, bring them in," Melgar said. "Let's get them treated properly and they won't have this rebound effect."