Widespread flu reported

Published 2:09 am Friday, February 1, 2019

School nurses hope student levels peaked last week

The flu is now widespread in Covington County, nurses in both the Andalusia City and Covington County school systems agreed.

“Last week we saw an increase of cases of the flu at the elementary school,” Andalusia City Schools head nurse Melinda Carrasco said. “Our numbers are starting to go down there this week, but we are now starting to see an increase in the junior high.”

Carrasco is hopeful the city school system saw its peak last week.

“Across the board, from K through 12, we saw a lot more cases last week,” Carrasco said. “So I think that we saw the bulk of the cases last week.”

She said that the symptoms that she sees are stomachaches, sore throat, and fever.

“It is really just a different flu this year,” Carrasco said. “The flu last year was much more dangerous, because you had a lot of people with pneumonia and upper respiratory infections. We aren’t seeing the severity this year that we saw last year, thank goodness.”

Related: Dr. Bang answers parents’ most-asked flu questions

Carrasco said that she has seen a little more cases this year than last year, thanks to a tracking system she uses.

“We use a flu tracker throughout our system,” Carrasco said. “The teachers have access to it also, so we are able to monitor what grades are being affected. Our numbers are slightly up from last year.”

Covington County Schools’  head nurse Michelle Armstrong said that she has seen 20 to 40 confirmed flu cases across the system’s nine schools this week.

“A lot of our smaller schools are getting hit hard,” Armstrong said. “Like Fleeta had 21 confirmed cases this week. We try to keep a grid to be able to kind of see if the child is type A or type B. We have mainly been seeing type A. We are also seeing the stomach bug, strep and we had a kid today that has had type A and type B flu.”

Armstrong said that they are seeing the flu earlier than they did last year.

“We are still trying to get our numbers in,” Armstrong said. “We are trying to get parents to call us and let us know, but right now it looks like we are seeing it a lot earlier than we did last year.”

Some of the symptoms that Armstrong is seeing are headaches, achy back pain, vomiting, sore throat and a fever.

“I’ve had some kids that their throats have looked normal,” Armstrong said.  “And they have a low grade fever, but you just never know.”

Armstrong said that the biggest thing is to make sure kids are washing their hands.

“We are trying to educate the kids and the parents about things that they can do to make sure they aren’t spreading the flu,” Armstrong said. “The biggest thing is hand washing and coughing into their sleeve not their hand. The teachers are doing a great job of cleaning after school to make sure that they are wiping down everything.”