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So far, so good

By Tamra Jarrett January is widely known as the start of the flu season, but so far, there have been no reports in Pike County schools. So far, so good said elementary school nurse Betty Crawford. Evidently things are working well. Pike schools have joined a host of others across the state implementing preventive measures to stave off flu and cold viruses. This includes hand-washing, hand sanitizer and disinfecting classrooms and other parts of school buildings when illness is reported. Children are also learning to cough and sneeze into their sleeves or elbows, rather than into their hands, said primary school nurse Shanna Callaway. This is a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control. Most importantly, children and adults who are sick should stay home. No one should return to work or school until they have been fever free for 24 hours, Callaway said. Pike schools were the first in Georgia to take part in the Flu-Free Schools Initiative Oct. 21-24. Health department officials administered a needle free nasal flu mist vaccine to students. The goal was to reduce flu among students and faculty to reduce absenteeism, which spiked during the flu season during last school year. District IV public health information officer Hayla Hall said there have been four positive results for the flu from state laboratories this month but this doesn’t mean those are the only cases. Influenza is not a notifiable disease and no one is required to report it. Since the fall there have been seven influenza type A cases and 15 type B cases. The flu cycle is still sporadic and there has been no large activity, she said. There have been no pediatric deaths or major outbreaks reported. Hall encourages everyone to practice preventive measures such as getting a flu shot, washing hands and avoiding those who are sick. February is historically the peak month for flu. County manager Steve Marro, a member of the Governor’s Commission on Pandemic Flu Preparedness, noted planning for a major outbreak is evidenced in the community by such features as disinfectant wipes near carts in grocery stores. Stickers in public restrooms reminding people to wash their hands are part of the initiative. Preventive measures recommended by the CDC include a flu vaccination, covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, throwing the tissue in the trash after use and washing hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, which spreads germs. Flu vaccinations are still available at the Pike County Health Department. The cost is $25. There is no flu mist vaccine available, but there are a few children’s vaccines. Those with private insurance are not eligible.

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