Is flu on the rise in some Fayette schools?

There have been a undetermined number of student illnesses recently in Fayette County public schools. While those illnesses may or may not be influenza, schools have sent letters to parents urging them to take the necessary precautions. Statewide, there have been few hospitalizations and no deaths related to the seasonal flu types A and B.

“We’re not tracking numbers, but we have had a lot of kids out and a number of our schools are saying it is the flu,” said school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.

“As of Nov. 16, Hood and Minter elementary schools had the highest number of students out sick, but again, I cannot say that it is the flu. We have sent home flu letters at all of our schools. I would tell people to take the necessary precautions to guard against the flu. We have updated flu info on the website.”

Concerning children who have the flu, the Fayette County School System recommends keeping children home for at least 24 hours after a fever of 100-degrees is gone.

To view a copy of the 2010 Flu Guide for Parents and other information visit http://fcboe.org and type “flu” in the search bar on the homepage.

There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The emergence of a new and very different influenza virus to infect people can cause an influenza pandemic. Influenza type C infections cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics.

Influenza A, such as H1N1 and H3N2, and influenza B viruses are included in each year’s influenza vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can protect against flu viruses that are the same or related to the viruses in the vaccine.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus), according to CDC. The seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against influenza C viruses.

Statewide data on flu-like symptoms compiled by the CDC and reported by Georgia emergency medical departments for the week ending on Nov. 18 show that nearly 45 percent of those cases involved children and young adults ages 5-24, approximately 40 percent involved children ages 0-4 and approximately 13 percent involved those aged 25-49.

Those reporting the smallest percentage of flu-like symptoms fell in the age groups 50-64 and 65 years of age and older. Approximately two percent of the 50-64 age group had flu-like symptoms while only one percent of the 65 and older group were affected.

The CDC report also indicated that since the beginning of the 2010-2011 flu season in October there have been a total of 18 hospitalizations statewide and no deaths.

Of those hospitalized, three were in the 0-4 age group, four were ages 5-17, six were ages 18-49, two were ages 50-64 and three were age 65 or older.

For more information on seasonal flu visit www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm.

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