Influenza cases up exponentially over 2020-21 season

The number of influenza cases in South Dakota is up considerably over the previous season.
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 9:36 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The number of influenza cases in South Dakota is up considerably over the previous season. Health officials say the state is experiencing a more moderate level of cases this year comparable to seasons before the pandemic began, similar to the situation in the rest of the country.

“We have seen just under 6,000 cases total influenza cases, which is far more than we saw during the last flu season. We saw less than 75 cases.” said SD DOH State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton.

As of January 15th, 114 people have been hospitalized in South Dakota this season for influenza. Sanford Health reports that across it’s system, around 50 people have been hospitalized with most coming in January. There have been four reported deaths due to influenza so far.

Clayton said that increase in influenza cases is putting a strain on healthcare systems, their testing and resources, as well as taking up space in already limited hospitals.

“Because the symptoms, they might be tested for both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time. That’s something to consider as well,” said Clayton. “Making sure that you’re taking precautions, that you’re getting tested if you do have symptoms. So you can really identify what you might have, and make sure that your medical provider can best provide the level of care. Sometimes it’s going to be supportive care until you develop a more severe illness.”

He said that means people need to be aware of trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as work on making sure to avoid another potential wave of influenza. South Dakota’s peak of cases so far came around New Year’s Day, but Clayton said that doesn’t mean a second wave of influenza isn’t out of the questions yet.

“I still think there is a high level of influenza being circulated out there in the communities, and it will be interesting to see if we do see a resurgence of influenza because the season typically goes through the end of April,” said Clayton. “So we could see after this latest Omicron surge additional influenza cases being identified. That number of cases, increasing hospitalizations and increasing deaths are a part of that.”

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