Fewer Flu Cases Due to School Closures

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email
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It's widespread across West Virginia, but the flu is losing steam -- thanks to the freezing cold weather.

"I think at this point if we are not at the peak we are on the down slope,” says Dr. Dick Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. “While the cases were increasing, school was mostly closed. I think that will probably have a huge effect on the number of people that end up getting the flu this year."

Multiple school closings mean lots of snow days for Wood County kids.

"The silver lining for that is that there's a lot less of the residents of our area that are getting sick,” Wittberg says.

Your child may exhibit a flu-like illness.

"Fever of over 100 degrees and either a cough or sore throat,” Wittberg says. “If they have those symptoms, don't send them to school."

Why risk everyone's health.

"They might be able to make it through one day before they have to be home the next day. But by doing that you're making the whole classroom of kids and probably the teacher too come down with the flu eventually,” Wittberg says.

The flu virus is not as contagious in an open setting.

"You probably aren't as likely to get it if you go out to the mall and just circulate amongst the people,” Wittberg says.

Schools on the other hand...

"Probably one of the prime vehicles for spreading flu around through a community,” Wittberg says. “And, you know, it's one of the reasons why if we ever had a really deadly strain of flu that was circulating, one of the things that we would consider doing is shutting down the schools."

With the weather warming up and school back in session, make sure your kids wash their hands often.

The flu hit West Virginia hard.

But all the recent school closings helped slow it down.

Dr. Dick Wittberg from the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department says typically in a classroom setting you're putting kids next to each other, requiring them to be together for hours at a time.

It's a great way to spread the flu.

But the continued frigid temperatures means we're probably going to see a lower level of flu than in past years.

"I think it's the first flu season that I can remember where at the peak of the flu the schools have been closed for weather reasons," he says. "So the fact that we've had really bad weather and sub-zero weather and a lot of snow... the silver lining for that is that there's a lot less of the residents of our area that are getting sick with the flu."

Wittberg says even though the weather is warming up and school is back in session, if your child shows flu-like symptoms, don't send them to school.

And have them wash their hands and wash them frequently.

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