Weather Forecast


Flu season is 'official' at area schools

Seasonal flu vaccines such as this one being given last week, have been in short supply. More serum is anticipated to arrive, possibly this week. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Friday, President Obama declared the H1N1 flu outbreak a national emergency.

By Monday, Park Rapids Schools met the flu outbreak criteria.

More than 5 percent of the overall student population is exhibiting influenza symptoms, district nurse Marianne Gilbertson reported.

Absences related to temperatures over 100 degrees, a cough and sore throat numbered approximately 28 in the high school, 30 in middle school and 45 in the elementary.

These numbers do not include stomach flu, she explained.

"It was just a matter of time," Chris Broeker, St. Joseph's community health manager, said of the outbreak arriving in Hubbard County.

In Nevis, approximately 100 students - nearly 20 percent of the student body were absent Monday. The student absences were split between the high school and elementary, superintendent Steve Rassier said, 48 absent in the elementary, 52 in the high school.

But Rassier said many of the students were experiencing stomach flu.

Two Nevis students have been verified as having the H1N1 virus, "that we know of," he said.

"The nurses have been very busy," Rassier said.

Menahga School didn't experience as many absences as Nevis and Park Rapids, but a few students were out sick Monday.

"We have a few more kids going home. More kids are absent in the elementary," said superintendent Mary Klamm. "But we have not hit any type of a threshold at all."

"Keep sick kids home," Gilbertson emphasized. Kids should remain home until 24 hours after the fever has broken without fever-reducing medication. She also encourages frequent hand sanitizing.

"We will be involved with this for some months to come, and the regular flu season too," Broeker said.

Vaccinations are under way for "high priority" individuals including emergency responders, law enforcement, health care providers meeting eligibility requirements, people caring for children 6 months to 4 years of age, and children 5 to 18 with health problems who are at risk for complications. Pregnant women are also a priority for early doses.

The vaccinations will be provided in schools when they become available.

"It could be later in November," Broeker said.