FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2021
South Dakota Reports First Flu Death of Season
PIERRE, SD – Today, the South Dakota Department of Health reported the first influenza death of the 2021-2022 season.
“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 local. In addition to one death, the state has reported 89 lab-confirmed cases of flu and 4 flu-related hospitalizations in the past week.
Each year, an average of 39 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, much like COVID-19, is a viral infection spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person talks, 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.