Flu Season Has Arrived in Region 8

January 23, 2007 - Posted at 5:30 p.m. CST

JONESBORO-The flu has made it's way into Region 8.

The State Health Department tells us, nearly all counties in Region 8 have tested positive for the Flu virus.

And as it reaches its peak season, pediatricians are feeling the affect.

"We've seen a full clinic everyday for the last 2 weeks and most are for respiratory infections," said pediatrician Bryan Harvey.

But so far, it's not as bad as it could be.

"Lots of kids are sick, but not in the record numbers like we've seen in the past," said Harvey.

He attributes that to the greater availability of flu vaccines this year.

But a look inside many region eight schools shows empty seats and quite a few x's on the role book.

"Yesterday morning there were five or six that came and ended up calling home because they had just started feeling bad," said Bryan Duffie, principal of Westside Middle School.

And for any virus, schools are a great friend to the spread of bacteria.

"They are in the same areas, they eat lunch together, they are in P.E. together, they are in recess together. So just lots of contact with each other throughout the day," said Duffie.

And considering normal absences range between three and five a day, when there's twenty to forty kids absent it's pretty significant.

"This year it has definitely affected us more. I didn't notice nearly the absentees last year," said Duffie.

But preventing the spread of germs isn't so easy to do.

Dr. Harvey said, "Often times people are contagious before they are symptomatic. So before they even start to feel ill they are sometimes spreading the germs for several days."

And for that reason, doctors encourage, if you have the symptoms get treated.

"Things like fever over 102. If they seem short of breath. Not able to take fluids in like they should. If they seem atypically sick, they should see their doctor, because influenza can be a serious infection," said Harvey.

We talked to all of the school districts in and around Jonesboro, and they all tell us they are seeing absentees ranging from 10 to as much as 25 percent.  That's quite a few considering it's typically only one or two percent.

Doctor Harvey tells us if you have the symptoms you need to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and take a pain and fever reducer that is aspirin-free.

For more information on the flu and how it can affect your body, you can log onto the Centers for Disease Control's web site at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.

Story Ideas or Comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.