Northland flu cases riseTWO HARBORS, Minn. - More than 100 students were out sick Monday at Minnehaha Elementary in Two Harbors with influenza-like symptoms, about 28 percent of student population.
By: Matt Suoja, Lake County News Chronicle, Worthington Daily Globe
TWO HARBORS, Minn. - More than 100 students were out sick Monday at Minnehaha Elementary in Two Harbors with influenza-like symptoms, about 28 percent of student population.
“We can expect that we’ll have additional cases, but expect that this week will be the peak for the current wave of illness,” said Louise Anderson, a school nurse in Two Harbors.
Two Harbors High School had 39 reported flu cases Monday, about 6 percent of the student population.
In Silver Bay, it was a different story. “The (numbers) are significantly lower,” school nurse Karen Brostrom said.
To combat a possible outbreak, the Lake Superior School District School Board passed a set of guidelines on how the school district should react to an outbreak.
Among the considerations are: In the event that 25 percent of support staff, including, cooks, custodians and paraprofessionals are out due to illness, all buildings in the district will be closed. All buildings in the district could also be closed if 30 percent of students at one school are out with illness.
“The reason that we have this many cases of H1N1 influenza is that none of our school-age population have had previous exposure (or immunity) to this virus before the current outbreak,” Anderson said. “Until kids either get sick, or get vaccinated, we’ll continue to see waves of H1N1 illness.”
There is no vaccine available as companies try to create it fast enough for a growing nationwide outbreak. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency last week because of the flu. Vaccines are expected to arrive later in November.
“H1N1 vaccination is so important for groups that are at high risk for complications,” Anderson said. Those groups include pregnant women, caregivers of infants under 6 months of age, children age 6 months to 24 years, and people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Vaccinations will be key, Anderson said, because “kids are often the pool of infected persons who transmit the influenza to the wider community.”
“We also don’t want anyone to have to go through five to seven days of feeling quite ill, fever, persistent cough, sore throat and body aches, if they don’t have to,” she said. “Parents need to know that if kids have fever (100 degrees or higher), with cough and or sore throat, they can assume that their child has influenza. Unless there are signs of serious complications, they do not need to go to the doctor.”
The Lake County Health Department and the Lake Superior School District nursing staff will offer free influenza immunization clinics for school-age children once the vaccine arrives.
Are you sick?
If anyone with influenza-like illness has any of the following serious symptoms, they need to seek medical attention:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing (wheezing, short of breath while at rest)
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids (not urinating at least every eight hours)
- Severe vomiting
- Confusion or lethargy (hard to wake up, not responding or interacting normally)
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Being so irritable to being touched or held
- Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and a worse cough
- Transmission can be reduced by continuing to wash or sanitize hands frequently; cover all coughs and sneezes; keep hands away from eyes, nose and mouth; avoid sharing water bottles or utensils; and get adequate rest, nutrition and exercise.
- The state has set up an influenza hotline at (866) 259-4655.