Thursday, March 10, 2016

Flu season still here, a month later than 2015

Eighteen students in a 5th grade class at Bay View Academy were out sick Monday, possibly with the flu, which prompted a teacher emailing a note to parents.

Cathy Gomes, student information manager at the school, said teachers have been encouraging families to keep students home if they're sick and to make sure they wash their hands to avoid the spread of viruses.

"We've made sure all the classrooms get thoroughly cleaned," she said.

Schools are required to report suspected outbreaks to the Monterey County Health Department, said spokeswoman Karen Smith.

"Specifically, we ask that school contact us if they see more than five children with suspected illness in a classroom, or more than 10 percent of the students out sick," she said in an email.

"We have had a few schools contact us this season with suspected increases in respiratory illnesses. We have worked with some schools to track the impacted classrooms, to improve hand hygiene practices, and to assist the school with flu prevention messaging for school staff and parents," she said.

But overall, it's been a typical flu season, Smith said. The season began to peak in February, which is a month later than last year.

"Peak flu activity will likely continue through March, which is a very good reason why people should still get the flu vaccine this year," she said.

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