COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WVOC) - State health officials say three more flu-related deaths occurred during Christmas week.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control says nine people have now died in South Carolina since the flu season began in September.

Three of the deaths have been in Charleston County, with one death apiece reported in Richland, Orangeburg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Dorchester and Horry counties.

DHEC says about 14,000 cases of the flu have been reported so far this season, with roughly 800 patients sick enough to end up in the hospital.

But this season has not been as bad as last season.

In the final week of 2012, the state had already reported 15 deaths and almost 33,000 flu cases in a season that peaked early in November and December.