Nurses and doctors hope the wave is almost past
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/01/2013 -- The flu has affected thousands of schoolchildren, who had to stay home sick or were sent to the hospital after persistently harsh reactions were endured, according to the Dallas County's latest flu surveillance report.
There was a severe spike in the number of students were were absent from school due to flu-like symptoms. From the start of flu season up until January 12, there were 3,937 students out sick. After January 12, there were 5,539 total students sick. That constitutes a 40% increase, according to the Dallas County schools report.
The county's flu-related hospitalizations now have reached 664, and is the primary admissions cause. Admission for respiratory distress and pneumonia were the number one specific causes. There have also been six flu-related deaths which have been reported this flu season.
“We are still at the height of flu season, unfortunately,” Dr. Wendy Chung, chief epidemiologist for Dallas County Health and Human Services, said Friday. Her staff has been tracking the local outbreak since early September.
“We hope for a downturn soon,” she said.
While the number of patients showing up have been dropping off after the Jan. 19 weekend, Chung stated that it was only one sign that the situation could thankfully be improving.
“Flu surveillance is very complicated,” she said. “It requires multiple indications to show something is changing, and it takes more than one week to make a trend.”
One of the most common indications of a virus' continuing to spread is the percentage of the influenza tests that come back positive. That number had hovered around 30% for the past five weeks.
“We’re at 29 percent for last week, which is high,” Chung said. “It’s less than the 30.5 percent rate of a week ago, but too small a change to be significant.”
Officials emphasized the need to stop a school outbreak before it happens.
“It’s important for people to realize that schools are vulnerable to the flu and to keep children home when they are sick,” said Elizabeth Smith, Dallas County’s influenza surveillance coordinator, who formerly worked as a school nurse.
“Children need to get their flu shots and to practice good hygiene, including washing their hands at school this time of year.”
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