So far this year we have already exceeded the number of confirmed cases for the entire flu season last year. And it looks like things are only going to go down hill from here.
The CDC declared the number of flu cases in South Dakota 'widespread' just last week, while neighboring states like Iowa and Nebraska have been in the category for a while now.
Dr. Wendell Hoffman with Sanford Health says there is no way to truly predict what the flu virus will do. However, there is a strong chance we'll see even more cases in the coming months.
"In South Dakota, the flu typically peaks in mid February. Therefore, based upon that historical information, now that we're two- thirds or so half-way through January, we can anticipate another month based upon historical norms, of pretty intense flu activity," Hoffman said.
Not only should people be aware of this upcoming peak in the flu, but there could be another wave beyond that.
"There can be two at least, two peaks. Where you'll see an early peak and then you'll see a later peak; the earlier one being characterized by one of the influenza viruses. The later one being characterized by one of the other influenza viruses," Hoffman said.
This second peak could hit as late as April or even May. Hoffman believes this unpredictable nature of the virus may be one of the reasons the CDC advises the entire population over six months old be vaccinated.
"The influenza vaccine is the single most important thing we can do to make flu less likely. Or to make it potentially less severe," Hoffman said.
While Hoffman does stress the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated, he also stresses the simple acts of using tissues, washing your hands, and sneezing or coughing into your sleeve rather than out in the open air.