Flu watch: School personnel helping stop spread

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018


With the spike in the number of flu cases in Covington County and Alabama, cleaning crews are doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.

Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey declared a medical state of emergency based upon the number of people hospitalized with the flu.

Local superintendents said they were contacted by Andalusia pediatrician Dr. Gabrielle Baldwin, who said her office had seen flu cases from each of the county’s three school systems. She asked that teachers and maintenance personnel do all they could to help prevent the spreading.

“I spoke with (Andalusia superintendent) Ted Watson the other day and we talked about what we need to do to keep this illness from spreading across the county,” Andy Alexander of Xtra Clean Inc. said. “We have already been doing all the things he told us to do, but we are paying a little extra attention to make sure things get done.”

Xtra Clean Inc. provides all of the cleaning services to Andalusia City Schools.

“We have been trying to focus on a lot of the things that the children touch like wiping down light switches, sanitizing desks and toilets and making sure to wipe down the door knobs,” Alexander said, “We have been doing these things all year, but amid the circumstances it is important that we focus on going the extra mile with it.”

On Thursday, Straughn Elementary’s school nurses posted a plea on social media asking parents to keep children at home if they are sick, and said school personnel are doing all they can to stop the virus from spreading.

“Our elementary school has been hit hard this week,” the post read. “That means that older siblings and family will begin to present with symptoms soon. Please help stop the spread of flu by keeping your sick kids at home. Anyone with a temp above 99 should stay home until they are free of temp for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen. Let me assure you that our fabulous custodians are cleaning door knobs, water fountains and restrooms. Teachers are cleaning desk and key boards, but you all need to encourage your children to wash their hands, cough into their sleeves and again stay home if they are ill.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu map shows widespread levels of flu throughout the country. High levels of flu are recorded in most of the United States, geographically, and specifically in 23 states. The map, based on data from week ending Jan. 6, 2018, shows high levels in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, with only moderate levels to the north in Tennessee, and minimal levels to the south in Florida.

The CDC   estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years ranged from 6,000 to 26,000 in the United States.

Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year.

The CDC also gives these guidelines to help prevent the flu.

  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.