Center Hill students, staff not immune to flu epidemic

Emily Merz, Staff Writer

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Like the rest of the state and much of the nation, sounds of coughs and sneezes are echoing through the halls of Center Hill High School as the flu epidemic takes its toll on students and teachers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports flu cases in all 50 states, and has tracked more than 60,000 positive flu tests since Oct. 1. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, “During week 03 (01/14/18- 01/20/18), the overall state ILI (influenza like illness) rate (9.5%) decreased from the previous week (10.9%), but was above this time last year (4.2%).”

In District I, which includes DeSoto County, the rate for week 3 is 11.4%, which means about one of 10 DeSoto County residents has some form of influenza.

Common symptoms of the flu include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. According to cdc.gov, flu prevention tips include frequent hand washing and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.

According to CHHS attendance clerk Cathy Dawson, there were 917 absences in the 14 school days of January, many of which were because of the flu, and these absences have continued into February. One notable recent absence is that of Assistant Principal Brenda Case.

“The epidemic has taken one of our fearless leaders,” Dawson said. “You know it’s bad when she’s out.”

Health and school officials caution that the flu spreads very quickly, and the symptoms do not always show up right away.

“Many students feel fine in the morning and then they’re out sick with a fever that night, and by then they have already infected someone else,” Dawson said.

When students are out with the flu, they typically can miss five school days, Dawson said, so their doctor’s note is not turned in until the sixth day. Because truancy letters are sent home after five unexcused absences, Dawson said the best way to avoid getting a letter in the mail is to fax the doctor’s note to the school so the absences can be excused before the fifth day.

Students who receive a truancy letter after being out with the flu should contact Dawson and turn in the doctor’s note so that the problem can be resolved.

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Center Hill students, staff not immune to flu epidemic