Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Influenza season expected to last longer at schools

December 18, 2003

It's no revelation to say student absenteeism due to the flu is typically higher in the Basehor-Linwood School District during the winter months. However, it only gets worse after the holidays, said Kathy Barger, a registered nurse in the school district.

"You have relatives coming in from out of town and kids are running around," Barger said. "They all just kind of switch germs."

Officially, the flu season runs between September and December. Unofficially, it stretches beyond that, said Barger, adding that she expects student absentee numbers to be higher after the Christmas break.

"So far, it has been high, not unusually high, but it's been up," she said. "In January and February is when it really starts to increase."

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, four people have died in Kansas because of complications stemming from influenza.

KDHE reports people most susceptible to influenza are: children between the ages of six and 23 months, women at least three months pregnant, individuals over the age of 65 and individuals with chronic health problems.

The department of health and environment recommends the following steps to help avoid the flu:

  • Wash hands before and after coming in contact with people after sneezing and coughing.
  • Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Limit contact with large crowds of people and stay home if you have flu-like symptoms.

KDHE will receive an additional 900 to 1,000 doses of adult influenza vaccinations to administer for treatment. Additional flu vaccines for children are also expected to arrive in January, the department of health and environment reports.

Health officials said the vaccinations are effective approximately 80 percent of the time. Although a vaccination does not prevent an individual from catching the flu, it does limit complications or symptoms.

Additional measures can be taken to treat the flu. Health officials recommend bed rest, adequate fluid intake, relief of cough and sore throat symptoms and aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce fever.

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