PIERRE – South Dakota reported the first influenza death of the 2020-2021 season on Friday. The death was reported in Potter County, and the individual was in the 80 to 89-year age group. To protect patient confidentiality, additional information about the deceased is not being released.
“Our sympathy is with the family. Their loss serves 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 sporadic. In addition to one death, the state is reporting four lab-confirmed cases of flu and two flu-related hospitalizations.
Each year, an average of 48 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.
In addition to vaccination, to prevent the spread of the flu:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel;
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; and,
• Stay home if you are sick.
Learn more at flu.sd.gov.