Walker County and Jasper City Schools are reporting an increase of students being diagnosed with flu. Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson and Walker County Schools …
Walker County and Jasper City Schools are reporting an increase of students being diagnosed with flu.
Jasper City Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson and Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood both provided statistics to the Daily Mountain Eagle late Wednesday, regarding confirmed cases.
"We have had a small uptick in absences," Jackson said.
She said Jasper Jr. High and Jasper High School have had to most confirmed cases of flu — 17 as of Wednesday. The elementary schools and intermediate school have had few confirmed cases, but Jackson said some students were sent home Wednesday at T.R. Simmons Elementary School with symptoms.
Hagood said the school system's director of health services, Margaret Guthrie, confirmed Wednesday there were 42 students diagnosed with flu or exhibiting flu-like symptoms system-wide. Dora High School and Sumiton Elementary School have had the most confirmed cases of flu.
Pediatrician Dr. Cameron Diaz of Dabbs and Hyland PC in Jasper said their office is diagnosing more cases of flu this month than in December, and type A has been the only type they have diagnosed.
Flu is being diagnosed mainly in children that were not vaccinated for the infection, she said.
Dabbs and Hyland nurse Laurie Wyma said their office is also seeing cases of strep throat and viral colds.
Hagood and Jackson said all schools are working to educate students on preventative measures to avoid catching the flu.
"We are promoting ways to fight the flu, like not touching your face, sneezing and coughing into their elbows, washing hands often and staying at home if you're sick," Jackson said.
Hagood added, "Our nurses really work hard on preventive measures such as an emphasis on hand washing and the Alabama Department of Public Health "fever rule," which states you must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school once a fever of 100.1-4 is detected."
Pat Spiller, a nurse practitioner in infection control at Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, said some people visiting the emergency room at the hospital have been diagnosed with flu, and the H3N3 strain appears to be the most common. She said adults over 65 are the majority of those being diagnosed with the infection, but there have been few admitted to the hospital due to flu illness.
"According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it looks like we're having a regional activity level," Spiller said. "In the Southeast, we're seeing a different strain of the flu than what some of the other areas are seeing, and it looks like the vaccination for influenza is a pretty good match this year."
Spiller recommended the flu vaccine to prevent contracting the infection, along with hand washing and disinfection. She also said people need to stay home if they are sick, since flu is airborne.
"If you're sick, don't go to work. Don't go to school," she said.