Flu epidemic affects students, staff

Recent flu outbreak causes students and staff to miss school

Kileigh Sailor, Staff writer

Katie Bullock
With so many students missing school due to illness, a group of chairs in B4 remains empty.

Dozens of staff and students are missing school due to the recent influenza outbreak that experts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) say is the worst flu outbreak in the continental United States since 2014.

While the flu season starts in early November, the effects of this spread only recently became widespread, in late December and early January.

The most common strain this year is a type of influenza A called H3N2, which effects vulnerable groups such as children, seniors and those with other illnesses.

While many people did receive the flu shot, people are questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine because according to the CDC, the flu vaccine is 30 percent less effective against this strain.  

Many, however, are confused on the difference between cold and flu symptoms.

“With the flu, you’ll get body fatigue, achiness, and soreness,” school nurse Carol Olson said. “You may or may not have a fever. You may or may not have a sore throat like you would with a typical cold. The most significant difference is the tiredness and achiness.”

So far, 14 students have been diagnosed with the flu by the nurse, and many staff members have had to stay home due to illness. Junior Savannah Brown, who contracted the flu during January, said she was misdiagnosed at first.

“It was really strange because I went to the doctor,” Brown said. “Well I went several times, but the first time that I went the doctor actually said I had a sinus infection and they were very wrong. The next doctor I went to got it right. I took a lot of antibiotics I didn’t need too.”

According to the CDC, the flu can spread by coughing, sneezing or even talking within 6 feet of someone, which is why doctors and nurses strongly suggest that anyone experiencing symptoms stay home.

“The sooner you’re tested the more likely they are to diagnose you and get you started on Tamiflu,” Olsen said. “Tamiflu is the only medication they give for the flu and it has to be given within 24 hours of being diagnosed with the flu.”

Receiving a flu shot is the first thing that the CDC recommends to avoid getting sick. Some other preventative measures include covering your cough, disinfecting recently touched surfaces, staying away from sick people, and washing hands.