Illinois Department of Public Health

Dozens of Students Sickened by Influenza at Suburban School

On Tuesday, 15 percent of students were home with an illness. Another 23 students were sent home with flu-like symptoms, school officials said

A suburban school is urging parents to take extra precautions as dozens of students were diagnosed with influenza in the last week.

South Middle School in Arlington Heights said it has had 30 cases of influenza since Feb. 20 and on Tuesday, several students called in sick or were sent home with flu-like symptoms.

“Overall recorded absence reasons and symptoms have varied,” the administration wrote in a message to parents.

More than 150 students were home with an illness Tuesday. Another 23 students were sent home with flu-like symptoms, school officials said.

By Wednesday, that number went up to 185, with an addition seven sent home. 

On Thursday, the school said several students remained sick and the school was "still sending a high number of students home with flu-like symptoms." 

South Middle School said parents should keep children home from school if they are experiencing symptoms including a temperature of 99.5 degrees or higher, a sore or red throat, an earache or a runny nose and cough.

Influenza symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose and muscle pain or body aches.

“Encourage your student to take care of their needs and respect the needs of others by following these guidelines,” the school wrote in its letter.

A custodial team is expected to treat "some areas of the building more frequently to help prevent the spread of germs," the school said. 

"At school, we are promoting healthy habits, encouraging students to wash hands and use the hand sanitizer available in most classrooms," officials said. 

Also this week, the Chicago Department of Public Health reported the city’s first flu-related pediatric fatality this season.

Since the 2018 to 2019 season began on Sept. 30, 144 people have been hospitalized in intensive-care units because of the virus, the city’s most recent report said. Nearly one in five patients were children.

“Though influenza activity is significantly lower than at this time last year, complications from influenza continue to occur in individuals at highest risk,” the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement. “CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older. It is not too late to get the flu shot. “

The most recent influenza surveillance report from the Illinois Department of Public Health ruled the virus was “widespread” in the state for the week of Feb. 10 to 16. Over 500 people in the state have been admitted to ICUs this season, and three children have died as a result of the flu.

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