HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Grand Strand doctors are already seeing cases of the flu trickling in and are predicting a severe flu season ahead.
Within the past two weeks in Horry County, doctors say they’re testing more patients for the flu and seeing more cases pop up. They noted there have been at least five positive flu cases so far.
A pediatric flu death has already been reported this year out of California - a 4-year-old who had underlying health issues. Officials said the death could be a sign that the upcoming flu season will be severe.
Flu seasons are notoriously unpredictable. Dr. Ron Reynolds with Beach Family and Urgent Care said the season tends to begin anywhere between October and November, with a noticeable increase in December.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot now. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends everyone over six months of age get the shot.
Reynolds noted there’s no way to tell how long this year’s flu season will last, but with one positive flu case at his practice already this month, he said it’s best to keep a close eye on symptoms and go to the doctor’s office immediately if a person believes they have the flu.
“It’s the fatigue, it’s just the body aches, maybe a little low-grade headache, questionable. I kind of feel like I’m maybe a little feverish, can’t really tell for sure and then a cough, congestion a lot of times will go with it too,” Reynolds said.
The doctor added that most vaccines take about two weeks to begin working, which is why physicians say the earlier one gets the flu shot, the better.
Information from the CDC notes that last flu season was a bit longer than usual and there are signs coming into researchers that one of the strains this year - H3N2 - is changing.
Doctors said it’s important to teach children safe hygiene practices with school back in session and to keep an eye on their upper-respiratory symptoms.
“Once you get to this time of year, people are moving more inside with the start of school. People are getting more exposed to each other. One of things we talked about in the past, we also have the seasonality issues related to the holidays where we’ll have groups of people coming to the area around Thanksgiving and around Christmas that will bring whatever was in their area to Myrtle Beach," Reynolds said. "And so a week or so after that, you start to see other little surges in activity because you have more strains of the virus that we might not have had before.”