The flu season is still going strong, especially in several West Virginia school districts.
Harrison County Board of Education officials notified parents this week about a flu outbreak that has affected as much as 15 percent of the district’s students.
“This is the first year that I can recall that we’ve seen this many children out at one given time with the flu,” Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department Nurse Director Margaret Howe-White told Metro News.
“In Harrison County, it’s widespread. We have flu in almost every school in the county.”
Wheeling Central Catholic High closed after about 40 students or 10 percent of the student body was out sick with the flu.
As a result, students unexpectedly got to stay home for President’s Day on Monday.
That’s when officials decided to give the school a deep cleaning which included disinfecting chairs, desktops, doorknobs and computers, WTRF reported.
Students returned to classes Tuesday.
Widespread activity has been reported in West Virginia and 45 other states as the flu continues to spread nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluView report.
Federal officials say the most frequently identified flu virus subtype being reported by public health officials was influenza A (H3).
However, a “significant number” of influenza B viruses have also been detected around the state instead of the sporadic cases usually seen in West Virginia. Upward of 30 percent of positive respiratory specimens have tested positive for it this year, state health officials report.
A recent report said that more than 14,000 cases of influenza have been reported across the county. There have also been a total of 29 influenza-associated pediatric deaths, including nine which were reported to the CDC for the week ending Feb. 18 for the 2016-17 season.
Body aches, pain and fever are part of the package, but other symptoms include chills, cough, sore throat, headache and a runny or stuffy nose.
Earlier this month there were about 364 absences at the Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School, and that meant at least half of the classroom seats were empty, freshman Logan Cochran told WSAZ.
“At fourth period I walked in, and there were only like four or five of us. Some of the staff are giving out masks to the students,” he said.
At about the same time, approximately 50 students at Shady Spring Elementary School in Raleigh County were also out sick with the flu.
Eastern Panhandle health officials usually see a spike in flu cases in February into March, but the increase actually began in January this year, said Angie Gray, Berkeley County Health Department nurse director.
She said the flu season typically lasts into March.