SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — COVID-19 isn’t the only illness that is spreading and causing problems.
According to the most recent update, nearly 70 patients have been hospitalized in South Dakota due to the flu so far this season.
Health officials have also confirmed two flu-related deaths.
A Sanford infectious disease specialist says the health system has seen a rapid increase in flu activity in the past couple of weeks.
“We have a number of patients in our hospitals with influenza, including a few that seem to be more seriously ill,” Sanford Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Susan Hoover said.
The latest numbers from the Department of Health show South Dakota added 1,265 confirmed cases during the week of December 26th through January 1st.
The state’s confirmed more than 3,200 cases since early October.
“We are experiencing higher levels of influenza activity than what we have seen in probably the last five flu seasons. Currently, we do have influenza A H3N2 that is predominating, and those seasons are typically associated with a little bit more severity,” South Dakota state epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said.
Hoover encourages people to get the flu vaccine, saying it remains very effective.
“Not only against catching the flu, but against being seriously ill, against being hospitalized, against having a flare-up in your chronic condition. For example, if you have asthma or heart disease, it’s well known that having influenza can flare up other conditions. You don’t want to need the hospital at this time. Hospitals are full with COVID and flu,” Hoover said.
Historically, flu cases peak in February in South Dakota.
Hoover reminds people that you can get your COVID-19 and flu shots during the same visit.