South Dakota Reports First Flu Deaths of Season

South Dakota’s first flu related deaths of the 2019-2020 season were reported yesterday (Tues.).

State epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says the three deaths were reported in Deuel and Mellette counties in individuals age 50 years and older.

Clayton says flu activity is widespread across South Dakota with 1,555 lab-confirmed cases of flu and 59 flu-related hospitalizations, to date. He says it’s not too late to get vaccinated for this flu season.

Influenza is a viral infection spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Common signs of the flu include a fever of 100 degrees or greater, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, body or muscle aches and runny or stuffy nose.

In addition to vaccination, to prevent the spread of the flu:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel;

  2. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;

  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; and,

  4. Stay home if you are sick.

To protect against flu complications, annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older. Groups like pregnant women, children younger than 5 years, people over 65 years and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. Healthcare workers and household contacts of high-risk populations, such as those with young infants, should also be vaccinated.

Each year, an average of 46 flu related deaths are reported to the South Dakota Department of Health.

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