Flu still prevalent in city, county schools

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/27/18

Schools across Walker County are continuing to have students absent with the flu virus, with a number of county schools set to be disinfected this weekend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this past week that there …

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Flu still prevalent in city, county schools

Posted

Schools across Walker County are continuing to have students absent with the flu virus, with a number of county schools set to be disinfected this weekend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this past week that there are many weeks left of the flu season, and the CDC says this is the first time all states have reported widespread flu activity in the past 15 flu seasons.

District-wide numbers were not provided of the number of students with flu in Walker County Schools, but some principals provided the Daily Mountain Eagle with the number of flu cases confirmed at their schools.

Oakman High Principal Patrick Gann said the school has seen 12 flu cases since returning from Christmas break. Bankhead Middle Principal Amber Freeman said there have been 15 cases of flu reported at their school — 13 students and two faculty members.

Curry High Principal Rod Aaron said two teachers and four students have been infected with the flu virus, and Dora High Principal Paige Abner said they have only had a few confirmed cases.

Other county schools didn’t provide the number of students and faculty that have been diagnosed with flu, but principals say they are taking many precations to keep germs at bay on their school campuses. Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins said all county schools will be fogged with disinfectant this weekend as well.

“We have been encouraging hand washing and making sure they have plenty of alcohol based hand gel,” Adkins said. “None of it is a cure-all, but you hope it may be making some difference.”

Adkins encourages parents to not send their children to school if they are sick, in an effort to keep germs from spreading.

The Jasper City Schools central office confirmed six cases of flu at Jasper High and Jr. High this past week, along with three cases at Memorial Park Elementary, one at T.R. Simmons Elementary and three at Maddox Intermediate, for a total of 13 confirmed cases across the school district.

Many Walker County principals are sharing messages with their students during morning announcements to avoid flu: to wash their hands longer than normal; to sneeze or cough into their elbow; to keep hands away from their face; to not share drinks or food; and to spray backpacks and other items with disinfecting spray when they return home from school.

They are also educating their students on early signs of the flu virus, such as sudden fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting.

Teachers and staff are also cleaning their classrooms more than usual and supplying hand sanitizer for students to use regularly. Jasper City principals recently shared with the Eagle that they are taking all of the same precautions.

Urgent Care Northwest’s Dr. Dean Naden said just before Christmas they were seeing nearly 50 cases of flu each day, and are now seeing 25 to 30 cases a day. He said they were treating more elementary and middle school students at the beginning of the flu season, but they are now diagnosing more cases of the flu in high school age students and young adults, along with the elderly.

They are seeing the H3N1 strain more often.

“We’re not hospitalizing a lot of our patients,” Naden said. “We’re probably hospitalizing maybe four or five patients a week.”

He said the majority of those hospitalizations are from dehydration and pneumonia.

Naden said the public should understand that while flu is airborne, it can also live on surfaces longer than other viruses.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Friday that 44 flu-related, non-pediatric deaths have occurred across Alabama since Jan. 11.