SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While all eyes globally are on the spread of COVID-19, the new name for the coronavirus, we have a reoccurring illness right here that local officials say we still need to be concerned about.
The most recent data for South Dakota is showing the influenza activity at a "wide-spread" level.
We're right in the thick of flu season and if you haven't gotten it yet, we still have about halfway to go.
The number of confirmed flu cases continue to rise in South Dakota and nationally, with the CDC estimating at least 22 million flu illnesses and about 12,000 deaths from the flu.
"It's a pretty average maybe a little above average year for flu," says Dr. Andrew Linnaus with Avera Family Health Center in Sioux Falls.
The South Dakota Department of Health released the most recent flu numbers; the last week in January.
The data shows over 1,300 new confirmed cases in that week, bumping the total number of cases for this season up to 5,808.
"It's not a new thing although every year we do see cases and complications and there are deaths related to it and so something we do have to take very seriously."
So far, there have been 7 reported flu-related deaths in South Dakota.
Older flu patients require extra precaution since they're more at risk for complications.
"Pneumonia, potential problems with the heart, kidneys things like that so. The virus, you know, it's the same patient to patient but it's really the complications that we see are a variable and we know those are going to be more severe in patients that are old and with chronic medical conditions."
*But, the national rates from the CDC among children and young adults are higher than they've been in recent years.
Though getting a flu shot is highly recommended to prevent the illness, some still get sick.
"You have to take as much of a preventative measure as you can and sometimes all you do is just take the case as you get it. And the best thing that we can do is mitigating those complications that we see..."
The CDC will have an estimate on flu vaccine effectiveness by the end of this month.
In addition to the shot, here's a reminder to regularly wash your hands, cover your coughs and avoid contact for at least 24-hours if you do get the flu.