Coronavirus worries amid real flu threat

Coronavirus worries amid real flu threat

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For now the scare over the coronavirus seems to be a world away. Pray it stays that way.

In reporting that no cases have been found in South Carolina, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said it is closely monitoring developments concerning cases of the virus. DHEC this past week briefed members of the state legislature and issued an update on activities related to the virus:

“This is a rapidly evolving public health event, and DHEC takes every new infectious disease very seriously. As the state’s lead public health agency, we are taking proactive steps to be prepared for potential cases in South Carolina, including remaining updated on and following the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations related to surveillance, evaluation, and response.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. Outbreaks of novel virus infections are public health concerns. The possible risk of 2019-nCoV infections in South Carolina depends on multiple factors, including the likelihood of travelers from affected areas, how easily the virus may spread from person to person and others of which are still unknown with 2019-nCoV. Although the potential of human-to-human spread raises the level of concern in the U.S., the CDC believes the risk to the American public remains low at this time.”

A primary recommendation from DHEC involves avoiding all nonessential travel to China, where the virus is having serious impact. But DHEC is recommending no additional precautions at this time “beyond the simple daily precautions that everyone should always take steps to stop the spread of illness, including getting the flu vaccine, washing your hands, covering your cough, and appropriately disposing tissues and other items contaminated with respiratory droplets.”

Let’s reinforce the importance of “those simple daily precautions” in the context of a threat that remains very real here – the flu.

According to CDC nationwide numbers in late January, more than 13 million people have been sick with the flu this year, at least 5.9 million have been to the doctor because of flu. More than 6,500 people have died.

Remember, there is no effective cure for the flu virus. Medications can only mitigate the illness’ effects. But unlike with coronavirus, there is a vaccination that can make contracting the flu far less likely.

It’s not too late. The CDC warns that flu season could last several months longer. While monitoring coronavirus, take an effective step against a real and present threat to yourself and others: Get a flu shot.

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