COVID-19 is front and center making headlines and trending on social media but its not the only virus we are fighting in Brookings. Infuenza is certainly the most prevalent with 14,229 testing positive with 23 deaths as of the latest March 14th report from the SD Department of Health.

South Dakota has seen 6 variations of influenza this year:

  • Type A (H1, H3 and unspecified)
  • Type B (Victoria, Yamagata and unspecified)

Type A & B’s unspecified strains are the most prevalent with a total 13,274 positive cases.

Another fairly new virus, the Human metapneumovirus is a respiratory illness that causes an upper respiratory infection (a cold). It usually occurs in the winter and early spring, along with the “flu” season. The virus was unknown until 2001 when it was first discovered. Symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, and fever. A very small number of individuals may have some shortness of breath, similar to that of COVID-19 and shared with influenza.

The symptoms of each of these viruses make it very difficult for healthcare providers to test individuals for COVID-19 without following strict CDC guidelines for testing. We have learned one of the top ranking criteria for being tested is travel: air travel abroad, air travel domestically and travel to and from highly infected areas. If you have not traveled recently it is likely you will not be a candidate for a COVID-19 test even though you feel certain you may have the virus.

Our healthcare providers must follow strict protocol which means the human element of health care may take a back seat to prioritizing each case. Limited supplies worsen the situation which can make their decisions even more difficult and people with less than understanding attitudes make it worse. It is important to be kind, patient and understanding at a time when that is hard to do, but it could help to keep your place in line rather than being pushed all the way to the back.

It is unfortunate that testing supplies are low and while you are not feeling well, remember you could have something other than COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and that is why our healthcare providers may be giving you an answer you might not want to hear.

If you are not feeling well or develop symptoms:

  • Call your health care provider immediately and tell them about any recent travel or exposure.
  • Individuals who are concerned that they have COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider via phone before going to a clinic or hospital to prevent spread in healthcare facilities.
  • Avoid contact with other people.
  • Follow the directions of your healthcare provider and public health officials.

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