Barnwell, SC — The seasonal flu outbreak has spiked to widespread levels in South Carolina, including the first flu-related death of the season, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

A child from Barnwell County was the first death of the season, which started in October. The previous online update of statewide status on Nov. 3 listed flu activity as sporadic. But reports from physicians in the past week indicate the outbreak has jumped to widespread.

“Flu activity typically peaks in February, and it is very unusual for us to see this number of cases so early in the season,” said Dr. Linda Bell , interim state epidemiologist.

The best defense for the flu is immunization, and flu shots are available at many physicians’ offices, health clinics and pharmacies. The best ways to prevent the spread of flu are to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash hands often and thoroughly and stay home when you are sick.