No major spike in influenza cases at schools

PARKERSBURG – Area hospitals are seeing an influx of patients at emergency rooms reporting flu-like symptoms. But officials with Wood County Schools say they are not yet seeing any spike in absences or illness.

Chris Rutherford, attendance director for Wood County Schools, and Teresa Morehead, coordinator of health services for Wood County Schools, both said there has not yet been any influenza spike among school children.

“It’s typical for this time of year,” Rutherford said. Rutherford said they are seeing elevated absences right now, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year. Schools are reporting a 6-8 percent daily absence rate, about 1,000 students. That’s compared to a 1 to 3.5 percent, he said.

Morehead said they saw an increase in the kids with influenza-like symptoms shortly before Christmas, but nothing out of the ordinary yet.

“The first week back absenteeism was pretty standard,” she said. “This week, we are starting to see some schools with a little higher absentee rate than what is common for this type of year.”

“This is cold and flu season and we normally see absences trend higher than normal,” Rutherford said.

Morehead said officials are getting daily reports from schools and monitor influenza, chickenpox and gastrointestinal illness (GI). Morehead said some principals are reporting more GI tract illnesses than influenza.

The information is compiled at the central office and sent onto the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.

Morehead said officials will continue to monitor things and school nurses and teachers will continue sanitation education; handwashing, soap, coughing into your arm and using alcohol-based sanitizer.

Morehead said parents are also encouraged to keep students who are having a headache and fever at home until they are fever-free for 24-hours without the aid of medication.

“Typically, this month into the end of February is when we see a spike; when it seems to hit the area,” Morehead said.