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More than 350 Lafayette Students Out Sick Wednesday, Presumably With Flu

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

Flu data as of Jan. 12 shows Mississippi with “low” flu activity levels; however, local schools have seen an increase in absentee students in the last week. Photo from the CDC.

More than 11 percent of students in the Lafayette County School District were home sick Wednesday, according to Lead Nurse Celia Roberts.

“We don’t know for sure if they’re all out sick with the flu, but we assume most are,” Roberts said Wednesday.

Roberts said the middle school is being hit the hardest with flu cases this week.

“Two weeks ago, we were seeing predominately elementary kids with flu-like symptoms,” Roberts said. “Starting around Friday, that started to change and today and yesterday the middle school has been really hit hard.”

In the middle school alone, Roberts said about 110 students were out Wednesday, and about 360 district-wide. About 2,900 children attend Lafayette County schools.

On Jan. 3, the Mississippi State Department of Health said in a news release that flu activity was increasing in Mississippi and across the nation. One pediatric flu death has been reported in Mississippi this season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the predominant flu strain circulating now is H1N1, which tends to affect children.
Roberts said kids come in with complaints of a headache, stomach ache or a sore throat, but won’t always have a fever.

“They come in at 9 a.m. with those symptoms and looking bad but no fever,” she said. “By 1 p.m., they come back and their temperature is 102.”

Roberts said she’s some children with high fevers and some who never get a fever but test positive for the flu.

“If your child complains about a headache or being very tired and they just look bad, it’s a good idea to call your doctor,” she said.

Since children, or adults, with this strain of the flu, may not present a high fever, they may tend to be around people longer, not knowing they have the flu, which makes it spread faster.

Roberts said the numbers this year so far show a busier flu season than last year.

“Last year’s flu, we a few less out, but those who got it, were out longer,” she said. “This is a short-lived flu that we’re seeing right now — two, three days.”

According to the Oxford School District, said cases of the flu have been reported at all of the schools, however, the numbers are not yet alarming.

Lead School Nurse Meg Hayden said the school will continue to monitor attendance numbers.

“As always, we ask that students stay home when sick,” Hayden said. “It is important that everyone be diligent with washing their hands with soap and water when possible, and cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.”

Students with flu-like symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines —— even if they are using antiviral drugs.

Rogers and Hayden both encourage parents to contact the school and report if their child tested positive for the flu so they can monitor outbreaks.



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