SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) has reported the first influenza death of the 2021-2022 season.
The death was announced in a news release by the DOH in which the state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton expressed sympathy and urged vaccination.
Our sympathy is with the family. Their loss serves as a reminder to us all that influenza can be a very serious illness. 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.Dr. Joshua Clayton, State Epidemiologist
In addition to the single death, the state has reported 89 lab-confirmed cases and 4 flu-related hospitalizations. Clayton noted that flu activity in communities across South Dakota is currently classified as local.
Each year, an average of 39 South Dakotan deaths are reported to the Department of Health following influenza infections. The DOH advocates for vaccination in order to protect against flu complications, noting that the vaccine 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.
The DOH says that the flu is similar to COVID-19 in that it 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.
Further recommended prevention methods include hand washing, covering of the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying at home when you’re sick.