Dewar, Stroud Schools Deal With Flu Outbreak

Thursday, January 20th 2011, 3:55 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

OKMULGEE COUNTY -- Some students were out of class Thursday, not because of the weather, but the flu.

The Health Department says flu outbreaks this time of year are not uncommon.

"It is that time of year when we're starting to an increase in the number of people with flu-like illness," Melanie Christian, with the Tulsa City-County Department of Health, said.

Two Oklahoma schools are feeling the brunt first-hand.

In Dewar, in Okmulgee County, nearly half of the kids in the high school are out with the flu. The district had announced it was closing Thursday before the bad weather hit.

In Stroud, the superintendent says 27 percent of the student body was out sick Wednesday, including 118 of the 450 elementary kids.

"It really hit us hard about two days ago," Rick McDaniel, Stroud Public Schools Superintendent, said. "We welcome an opportunity to close school so, hopefully, we can get our students back in shape, back in school."

The Health Department says this has been a pretty typical flu season. Since September 1st, 212 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, half of which have been children, but just last week that number increased by nearly 30 percent.

The Health Department says schools can be a common place for children to pass on the flu.

"Just the typical behavior of children, they have the tendency to frequently touch their eyes, their nose, or their mouth and often times that's how you're going to spread a virus such as flu," Christian said.

Melanie Christian says hand washing can go a long way to prevent the flu. She also says it's not too late to get a flu shot.

"When you get the shot it does begin to build some immunity right away, to get the full immunity and protection that it offers it does take about two weeks," she said.

Dewar Schools do not have class on Fridays, so the students there are getting a four day weekend. The superintendent in Stroud says, weather permitting, he plans to be open on Friday.

To see where the flu vaccine is offered in Tulsa County, check out the Health Department's website.