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Flu Season Swamps South Dakota

Flu Shot
(Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

 

As the warmer conditions promised during springtime approach, we hope be escaping a myriad of illness that ravaged through the chilly winter.  The South Dakota Department of Health kept watch over the numbers affected by the flu season and the results show that that influenza hit especially hard.

Statistics show that through early March, over 900 people were tagged by some form of the influenza virus.  Most notably Influenza A and the subsets involved with that designation of the flu knocked down about 75 percent of the people diagnosed.  Also one-third of the folks diagnosed were hospitalized and 35 people died.  Compare that to the numbers from 12 months ago, when only a little over 500 influenza cases were confirmed.

State Epidemiologist for the State of South Dakota Lon Kightlinger was quite alarmed by the numbers this year.  Compared to normal years, the number ballooned because the flu vaccine was only 60 percent effective.  Kightlinger says because strains of influenza are ever-changing and hard to duplicate into vaccine form, this year’s preventative treatment just didn’t catch up with the actual pathogen.  Plus, Kightlinger admits the technology used to make the vaccine is quite antiquated.

Lon Kightlinger Explains Reasons For Flu Vaccine Shortcomings

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Kightlinger also says that age makes a difference in effectiveness of flu vaccine.  The younger you are the more accepting you are of the shot.  Conversely, older people’s immune system doesn’t respond as well so influenza will hit elders harder and the vaccine’s efficiency drops correspondingly.

Lon Kightlinger Says The Effects Of The Flu Hit Older People Harder

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Recent years have seen vaccine shortages as well, but Kightlinger maintains that the fight against flu still rages.  Plus the scientific community is still trying to break through with a flu vaccine that can be more potent in the prevention of influenza.  The South Dakota Department of Health tracks influenza numbers from early October through mid May.

 

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