Categorized | Features

Flu season: more like “ew” season

By: Alyssa Kerrigan

Across the United States, the influenza virus is spreading like wildfire, engulfing the country in one of the most violent flu seasons in nearly a decade. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “ILI [influenza-like-illness] dropped from 7.4% last week to 6.4%, but remains higher than the peak of flu activity observed during many seasons.” With alarming flu activity statistics all over the news, concern arises for families living in our community, as well as here at Waynesboro High School.

Amy Gibson, the nurse at WHS, confirmed that there have been at least “thirty [cases of the flu] that have been recorded.” With all the sickness going around, Gibson shares some of the most commonly seen symptoms of the flu at school.

“I’ve heard a lot of headaches, being dizzy, definitely a fever, general cold symptoms, mainly,” said Gibson, “some of them neck pain, like I said headaches and dizziness are some new ones that are very severe this year.”

Of the flu cases in Waynesboro, teachers are included. The photography teacher at WHS, Joshua Spees, recounts his personal experience with the flu. When first noticing symptoms, Spees said he was “tired, kind of achey, and I had the chills. Like definite chills, like shaking, cold, even though I was dressed in five layers.” Spees’ symptoms lasted for about a week, although following the flu he was sick on and off. He experienced an upset stomach and mild cold symptoms in the weeks after his bout with the flu.

In addition to the days he had to stay home from work, Spees said that as far as student absences, “there were at least 10-20% of every class gone every day, and kids were gone for over a week at a time. And it’s extended absences, which kill you in terms of school, it’s hard to rebound from that.”

Despite the large number of absences, Nurse Gibson said that in order to prevent further spread of flu bacteria, it is wise to make sure you are completely well before returning to school. “I think it greatly impacts when people come back before they’re well; they say if you’re running a fever, you should definitely not be at school” said Gibson. When students are contagious, the flu can easily be spread by way of  “coughing, mainly, people coughing in the air…other people breathing it in,” Gibson said, “and touching door handles and things like that.” Gibson’s advice for flu prevention is to wash your hands constantly, cover your mouth when you cough, and if you have had a fever in the last 24 hours, do not come to school.

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