S.D. reports first two influenza cases of the season

South Dakota reported its first two influenza cases of the 2012-13 flu season last week, including the first reported flu hospitalization of a child in Pennington County.

The flu cases, reported on opposite ends of the state, could represent an early beginning to the flu season. State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said that it might be too early to tell if the cases are sporadic or a sign of the beginning of flu season, the Rapid City Journal reports.

"It is hard to say if this is actually the start of the flu season, since we usually have a few sporadic detections before the actual flu season bursts open," Kightlinger said, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Kightlinger said that either way, the cases should remind South Dakotans that it is never too early to get an influenza vaccination.

The cases occurred in Pennington and Lincoln counties and were two different viruses - influenza B and influenza A-H3.

The first laboratory confirmed influenza case last flu season was reported in the final week of October. The 2011-12 season peaked in mid-March, much later than usual, according to the Rapid City Journal.

During the 2011-12 flu season, there were 505 cases confirmed in laboratories and 17 deaths connected with influenza.

Kightlinger said that all residents above the age of six months old should receive routine influenza vaccinations.