Influenza season has come in full force this winter as South Dakota reported three flu-related deaths in mid-January. The deaths occurred in Deuel and Mellette counties and the individuals who passed away were all 50 years old and older.
However, flu season has also affected Spink County this month as several events have been cancelled due to the virus.
“We’ve seen students out every day at school and the MS Boys Basketball tournament we were hosting [February 1st] has also been cancelled due to one team being overwhelmed with sick athletes with Influenza. So we encourage good hand washing and use of hand sanitizer here at school,” wrote Ryan Bruns, Superintendent and Elementary Principal for Northwestern Area School District, in a recent blog post.
In Redfield School during the past month, school nurse Denise Fliehe said there have been 10 reported cases of Influenza A or B.
“There may be more, but they have either not been tested or did not report it to the school,” stated Fliehe.“We have seen a general increase of sickness including high fevers, strep and general stomach ‘flu’.”
In grades 7-12 in the Doland School District, seven confirmed cases of the flu have been reported in the month of January. Six of those cases were students and one was a staff member. Five of those cases were all within one week — the last week of January.
“We have had numerous other student absences with kids missing a day here and there since Christmas break,” stated Doland School Superintendent, Jim Hulscher.
As of January 22nd, South Dakota reported 1,555 lab-confirmed cases of the flu, and 59 flu-related hospitalizations.
Influenza is a viral infection spread by respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Locals are reminded to cover sneezes in the crook of the arm, wash hands regularly, and remain home until healthy if infected.