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Doctors Say Flu Season Isn't Over

March 31, 2010, 6:11 PM by Courtney Zieller

Doctors Say Flu Season Isn't Over
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The influenza virus is starting to pick back up again. Some South Dakota clinics are seeing more patients come through the doors.

Just when we thought flu season was over, doctors say otherwise.

"The message is we are still in the flu season, even though it's late in the flu season. This virus has been sort of interesting because we had rampant flu at odd times of the year," Sanford Infectious Disease Dr. Wendell Hoffman said.

And now is no different.

"The activity is sporadic right now, which means it's still being seen but only occasionally in the state," Hoffman said.

Hoffman specializes in infectious diseases and says there's one flu strain that makes up 99 percent of all influenza this season.

"H1N1 is the predominant influenza virus still out there. The seasonal strains haven't made much of an impact in the 2009-2010 flu season," Hoffman said.

We've already gone through a second wave of the flu, but dealing with a third isn't out of the question.

"We think it would be much milder than the second wave simply because many people have come down with H1N1 and have developed immunity or received a vaccine," Hoffman said.

So, if you've already rolled up your sleeve and got a flu shot this year, doctors say you're well protected.

"Those levels of antibodies persist for a long time, up to a year," Hoffman said.

"If you haven't been vaccinated yet, doctors say there are still flu shots available.

"The CDC tells us about 125 million have been sent out but about 30 million doses nationwide have been left unused," Hoffman said.

Those who are at higher risk and haven't received one should still get one.

"The at-risk groups for complications have been included. The younger age groups, the older age groups, anyone with chronic underlying health conditions," Hoffman said.

Pregnant women are also in that group.

Health officials have seen the virus pick up in southeastern states, such as Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

In South Dakota, only four percent are testing positive for the virus.

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