UPDATED 1:40 p.m. | District 87 schools have seen a surge in absences due to students having the flu.
School nurses have also sent a growing number of students home who were experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Bent Elementary School Nurse Sue Rutherford said Friday she has seen symptoms of a mix of illnesses in sick students.
“We’re seeing both influenza A and influenza B,” Rutherford said. “We’re also seeing strep (throat) and we're seeing stomach issues with kids and with vomiting.”
Already this flu season (which generally begins in the U.S. in October and peaks during winter months), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 15 million people in the U.S. have gotten sick with flu.
Common symptoms include sore throat, vomiting, and high temperatures. Symptoms of strep throat include neck swelling, white patches in the throat, and repeated infections.
When To Keep The Kid Home
Rutherford said school absences due to flu are up from last year’s flu season. Parents often face a difficult decision on whether to keep their kids home or send them to school. Rutherford suggests parents follow the District 87 flu guidelines to prevent spreading the illness.
“If your child has a fever of a 100 or over, 24 hours without any Tylenol or any medicine to reduce the fever,” Rutherford said. “If they’re vomiting, again 24 hours without vomiting. If they’re coughing so much, they’re not going to be able to concentrate in school and be comfortable.”
Parents also face troubles finding emergency care for sick kids. Rutherford suggests parents have a backup plan.
“Sometimes parents don’t have backup plans, and I can’t stress that enough,” Rutherford said. “Have someone that can come get them and let your work be aware.”
Rutherford also advises parents to teach their kids how to cover their cough, blow their noses, good hand-washing tips, and keep them out of crowds of students. Contacting a health care provider about flu shots is also recommended.
Flu season is also keeping local health care facilities busy.
OSF HealthCare has seen 385 positive flu tests—with seven patient admissions as a result—between its St. Joseph Medical Center, three Bloomington-Normal Urgos, and four Bloomington-Normal PromptCares, said spokesperson Libby Allison.
Currently OSF St. Joseph Medical Center does have visitor restrictions in place. That means it is requested that:
- Visitors should be at least 18 years of age and older. This will minimize exposure of patients to children, who are known to be high risk for transmission of viral infections, and will protect children from contracting an illness while visiting the hospital.
- Please do not visit hospitalized patients if you are not feeling well, particularly if you have had flu-like symptoms during the past seven days. Symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, cough, and/or sore throat.
- Remember to cough and/or sneeze into your arm or shoulder or use a tissue. The spread of germs can be reduced by coughing into your clothing. Avoid covering your mouth with your hands, as the germs can easily be passed through direct contact with surfaces or people.
These guidelines are based on recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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