Flu season begins early in the Grand Strand

Flu season begins early in the Grand Strand
Each year, medical experts typically look to Australia to predict what will happen here in the U.S. since their winter and flu season is during our summer. (Source: WMBF)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Aches and pains, sneezing, sore throat and exhaustion.

Flu season is here and doctors in the Grand Strand want people to be prepared for a possibly severe season.

Each year, medical experts typically look to Australia to predict what will happen here in the U.S. since their winter and flu season is during our summer.

“In the Southern Hemisphere the winters are during our summer so we like to look at Australia as a testing area as to what might be the common flu strengths and they pick which vaccines to create based on what’s ongoing in those areas,” said Dr. William Epperson, a physician with Tidelands Health.

This year Australia saw a pretty harsh flu season with more than 300,000 confirmed cases.

While flu season in the U.S. usually starts to ramp up in November and December, local doctors in the Carolinas saw cases of the flu start popping up in September.

Similarly to what doctors have seen in the Carolinas, Australia had an unusually early start to flu season.

With more than three decades in the medical field, Epperson said vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu.

“Antibiotics don’t treat viruses,” said Epperson.

Pharmacist Joe Shockley said as more states have allowed pharmacies to immunize, the number of flu cases has started to drop.

“When I grew up I got my immunization with the doctors or health department and now we’re able to provide many more immunization and I’ve watched that grow exponentially,” said Shockley.

While alternative methods to immunization, such as elderberry, have been debated. Epperson said flu shots are the most effective defense against the virus that can become deadly.

“These things that come out that are going to have magical results, if they existed and they worked it would be a common place in medicine,” said Epperson.

Epperson said if you think you have the flu take the sick day and get yourself to the doctors.

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