The new rules started Dec. 25 and require doctors and hospitals to report all hospitalizations for influenza as well as all influenza deaths to the Department of Health.
South Dakota's flu surveillance network also includes 35 clinics in 27 South Dakota counties that serve as special sentinel sites and five sentinel doctors. They are among the approximately 1,200 health-care provider across the country who report weekly the number of patients the see and the number with the influenza-like illness. Data reported by sentinel providers, in combination with the other influenza surveillance data, provide a state and national picture of influenza activity and the circulating viruses.
"Data about flu hospitalizations and deaths is critical if we are going to quickly identify the kind of unusual flu activity we could expect during a pandemic. This data is absolutely key to timely response and management of pandemic," said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department.
For more information about influenza prevention and surveillance in South Dakota, see the department's Website at http://flu.sd.gov.