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GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- At least six people in South Carolina have died of the flu so far this season.

The Greenville News reports flu cases began rising dramatically the week before Christmas.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control says the first case in South Carolina was reported in October. The agency says 401 people as of Dec. 21 had been hospitalized for the flu. The six deaths occurred in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester and Richland counties.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most prevalent strain this season is the H1N1 virus, which hits younger people hardest.

The flu season runs from October through March in South Carolina. DHEC says the flu killed 46 South Carolinians and hospitalized 1,721 between Sept. 30, 2012, and Sept. 21, 2013.

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