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Flu in South Dakota has spiked up, but officials say this season is less severe than last season. File photo

Spread of flu spikes in SD

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Just after the halfway point in the 2018-19 flu season, the South Dakota Department of Health released statistics showing a sharp uptick in the number of confirmed flu cases in the state.

In the last week of January and the first two weeks of February, the number of cases in South Dakota has been higher than any other week in recent years, according to the Department of Health. In the second week of February alone, the department’s data showed there were about twice as many confirmed cases in the state as there were in the seventh week of last year’s flu season, the week which previously had the most cases since at least the 2013-14 season.

However, Dr. Fernando Bula Rudas, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Sanford Children’s Specialty Clinic in Sioux Falls, said that doesn’t mean this year’s flu season is worse than that of past years.

“This year, so far, there have been 34 pediatric deaths in the whole country. And last year, there were 185,” Bula Rudas said. “The season’s still not over, but the previous season was more severe, at least in terms of deaths, compared to what we’re seeing in this year so far.”