SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the holidays approach, respiratory illnesses are ramping up across Sioux Falls and beyond.

According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza activity in South Dakota is “high.” Doctors at Sanford tell KELOLAND News that the health system is seeing an increase in those seeking influenza tests and a high rate of positivity at 26%.

Influenza/RSV test results Nov. 24-Dec. 8. Courtesy: Sanford Health

Dr. Michael Naegle, a resident physician with Sanford, said that there’s a trifecta of illnesses impacting people right now.

“There’s RSV, there’s COVID, and influenza, mostly influenza A, is what we’re seeing. But because we have three different respiratory illnesses all kind of colliding at once, we’re having really high numbers across the country,” Naegle said.

With RSV, Naegle said we may be seeing an earlier peak of the illness that is spreading among South Dakota’s youth.

“So normally, it’s a little bit later on in the year, but we’re seeing it earlier,” Naegle said. “So yes, it’s higher, but it’s more due to it just being earlier, I can’t really predict what it’s going to be like in the future. But we’re seeing more cases than normal compared to the time of year.”

The flu is also going around across the state with 2,266 confirmed cases and 98 hospitalizations so far.

Should you mask up?

So, what can you do to stay healthy this winter? Naegle said there’s a few options.

“So, the best thing that we can do is avoid large groups of people wear masks, if you are going to be in a place with other people where that can be transmitted, and then get immunized. Those are the three best things that you can do to protect your family,” Naegle said.

He added that wearing a mask while sick could help keep those around you from also getting sick.

“I can say that we’re likely seeing increased numbers because of masking being effective previously,” Nagele said. “And now that we’re being a little bit more lenient with the masking and haven’t been as exposed to influence in the past. That’s why we’re having all of these kind of go around at once.”

Vaccinations against the flu can also help prevent the spread of the disease, Naegle continued.

Another important thing to remember is to seek medical help if symptoms worsen.

“That’s when they have a lot of increased work of breathing. If they aren’t eating and drinking those types of things,” Naegle said.

The South Dakota Department of Health releases weekly flu numbers every Friday. This story will be updated when those numbers are released.