3 flu-related deaths in South Dakota reported

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) Influenza activity has been increasing in South Dakota and is currently considered widespread.

The deaths were reported in Duel and Mellette counties and the individuals were all aged 50 years and older. (KOTA TV)

On Tuesday, the South Dakota Health Alert Network reported the first flu-related deaths in South Dakota and as of today, that number has climbed to three.

There have been 59 hospitalizations so far this season and more than 1,500 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in the state.

Experts are saying influenza activity has not yet peaked and anticipate several more weeks of high transmission in South Dakota communities - reminding citizens that the flu can be unpredictable. So the time to get your flu shot is now.

Ty White is the Infection Prevention and Control Director at Monument Health.

"I would hope this would be something that people take note of and realize that influenza is a serious disease that we really do have to take seriously every year. Hopefully, it promotes getting vaccinated on a yearly basis for influenza because it really does make a difference," said White.

Pregnant women, children younger than five years old and people over the age of 65 are the most vulnerable to the infection.

Each year in South Dakota, an average of 46 flu-related deaths are reported to the Department of Health.