Flu season causes school closings, not yet reached its peak

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Several area schools recently cancelled classes as the influenza virus continues to spread.

Kiowa Public Schools, Quinton Public Schools, Lakewood Christian Schools, McAlester Christian Academy, Stuart Public Schools and Canadian Public Schools all canceled classes within the past week due to the influenza virus — causing students and faculty to become absent.

Quinton, Lakewood, McAlester Christian and Stuart Public Schools are all expected to resume classes again on Monday. Canadian operates four days per week with no school on Mondays, so it will resume classes on Tuesday. Kiowa cancelled classes Jan. 11-12 before reopening its doors on Jan. 15.

 According to a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 45 flu-related deaths have been reported in Oklahoma since Sept. 1, 2017.

The report states flu caused a total of 1,141 hospitalizations in Oklahoma since Sept. 1, 2017, with 288 flu-related hospital stays from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9.

Nine of those hospitalizations occurred in Pittsburg County and 74 of those were in the southeast Oklahoma region, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Warren Clinic Director Michael Echelle said the clinic has seen an increase in patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

“We have seen children and adults with respiratory illnesses who have received a rapid test and tested positive for the flu,” Echelle said. “It would be fair to say the influenza virus is widespread in the McAlester and Pittsburg County area.”

McAlester Regional Health Center Marketing Coordinator Ashley Kennon said MRHC has also seen an increase in flu cases in its urgent care, emergency room visits and family clinics.

“It’s important to remember hand-hygiene and safety protocol when visiting patients,” Kennon said.

Pittsburg County Health Department District Nurse Manager Melissa Locke said it is important for everyone to stay home when sick, especially when running a fever.

“You should be fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication, before returning to work or going to school,” Locke said.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty said everyone should do what they can to prevent themselves from getting the flu virus.

Source: mcalesternews