FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Flu deaths doubled in South Dakota in 2012-2013 season

South Dakota experienced twice as many flu deaths in the 2012-2013 flu season as it did the previous year, according an official with the South Dakota Department of Health.

During the 2011-2012 season, there were 17 deaths, 164 hospitalizations and 505 confirmed cases. Numbers were up in all three categories during the latest season, Capital Journal reports.

"We've already doubled the number of deaths," Lon Kightlinger, the state epidemiologist, said, according to Capital Journal. "We've doubled the number of hospitalizations. We've almost doubled the number of confirmed tests. It's been a worse year this year by anybody's measuring stick."

The confirmed number of influenza cases in South Dakota during this flu season is 945. The flu season is past its peak, though it may continue through April or May depending on the severity of the season.

"We've had so far 337 people reported hospitalized in South Dakota," Kightlinger said, according to Capital Journal. "There have been 36 deaths so far, including two Hughes County residents. Two of the deaths were pediatric deaths - children."

Kightlinger said the influenza casualty list is typically greater than it appears in the official numbers, Capital Journal reports.

"This is not a trivial disease," Kightlinger said, according to Capital Journal. "It's a bad disease. And since it hits every year, and it's common, people want to minimize it. We know that other people die and don't get diagnosed, especially among the elderly."