South Dakota detects first influenza cases The Department of Health today reported influenza detections in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, the first South Dakota detections of the virus this season.
One case was a Sioux Falls 10-month-old who presented at an emergency room with fever and upper respiratory symptoms. The other was a 34-year-old Rapid City resident who was admitted to a hospital with fever, cough, upper chest pain and difficulty breathing. Both cases were influenza A and were detected using direct fluorescent antibody tests. Final culture confirmation of influenza is pending at the State Public Health Laboratory in Pierre.
"The fact that one of our first cases is a young child reinforces the state's decision to provide free influenza vaccine to children 6 months to 23 months this year," said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. He encouraged parents to contact the department's local community health nursing offices to find out when shots are available in their area or to check the Web at www.state.sd.us/doh/.
Dr. Kightlinger said that the flu vaccine is readily available this year and that there is still time for people to be vaccinated to protect themselves for the rest of the flu season.
"In addition to getting immunized, South Dakotans should also practice good cough and sneeze manners to prevent the spread of the flu. It's important that people cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash their hands frequently," said Dr. Kightlinger.
Influenza is an upper respiratory illness characterized by sudden onset of fever, cold symptoms, chills, headache and body aches. Bronchitis and pneumonia are common complications. There are several antiviral drugs available on the market that can be used to treat influenza and can also be used preventively.
More information about influenza is available on the Department of Health Web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/flu.