South Dakota Department of Health

Today South Dakota reported three flu-related deaths, the first deaths of the 2019-2020 season. The deaths were reported in Deuel and Mellette counties and the individuals were all aged 50 years and older. To protect patient confidentiality, additional information about the deceased is not being released. 

“Our sympathy is with the families. Their losses serve as a reminder to us all that influenza can be a very serious illness,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist for the department. “It is not too late to get vaccinated for this flu season, and if you haven’t yet received your annual flu vaccination, the time to do so is now.”

Clayton noted that flu activity in communities across South Dakota is classified as widespread. To date, the state has reported 1,555 lab-confirmed cases of flu and 59 flu-related hospitalizations.

Each year, an average of 46 South Dakotan deaths are reported to the Department of Health following influenza infections. 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.

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