Flu Virus Shuts Down Schools

December 17, 2003 -- Posted at 5:51 p.m. CST

DUNKLIN COUNTY--There will be no classes for the Holcomb School District the rest of the week. It's not because of the winter break, it's because of the flu.

Of the 552 students K-12, the school has had over 100 absentees nearly every day this week...those missing students cost the school budget around $4,000 a day.

Darrell Wilburn is the Holcomb Superintendent, and says the flu caught them by surprise this year.
"A lot of them have the vaccinations, but it's hit early this year. Earlier than usual seems like and harder."

Vaccinations can help folks avoid contracting the flu...but right now the vaccines are pretty scarce in Region 8.

The Arkansas State University Health Center just received a shipment of the flu mist vaccine...the vaccine runs around $45 to $50 dollars and although it can protect you for up to a year, it's not for everyone.

The flu mist is only good for people ages 5 to 49. They have to have an intact immune system," said Linda Farris, Director of the ASU Health Center.

People who take the flu mist inhaler must also avoid putting others at risk...just coughing and sneezing can transmit the live virus to others.

"People should

not go into a hospital, where there's a lot of sick people, or a lot of people who have an immune system problems," said Farris.

By getting vaccinated and taking precautions, folks can avoid coming down with the flu.

Making sure to wash your hands frequently, you can avoid spreading the germs that cause the flu.
Wilburn says "We do a lot of things to try and prevent. We use bleach water on the desks and wash the desks down. We use Lysol spray on the busses to try and help."

Meanwhile, two more Southeast Missouri Schools have since canceled classes due to the epidemic...East Carter County R-2 and the Campbell R-2 school district will be out Thursday and Friday.