Fall flu shots seemed to have stemmed the usual late-winter influenza epidemic in Pratt schools.
Citizens, and school children, in and around Pratt have not escaped the timely influx of influenza-related illnesses, but it is not as bad as last year, according to Paul Carrington MHA, BSN, RN, Director of Quality and Infection Prevention at Pratt Regional Medical Center.
“Respiratory viral illnesses are popping their ugly heads up at this time of the year,” Carrington said. “We often believe that this is due in large to the flu.”
Carrington said that several viruses can cause similar patterns of illness.
“Actual influenza cases and severity this year so far is below average,” Carrington said. “Of patients tested at PRMC lab during February only 16.7 percent with upper respiratory viral illness symptoms tested positive for the flu.”
All flu positives were the A strain of flu, Carrington said.
Carrington reported during February Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) was active with 52 percent of patients testing positive.
“RSV was most active in patients under 2 years of age,” Carrington said.
In March, there has been a slight increase in positive flu percentage from 16.7 percent to 20.6 percent, according to Carrington.
“All of the positive flu was the A strain,” Carrington said.
Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie VanDervyver RN said Friday that the department has taken a pro-active approach to prevent flu and other respiratory illness in the county.
“We’ve had 12 flu-shot clinics around town this year,” VanDervyver said. These have included at Pratt USD 382 and Skyline USD 438, where faculty and staff were offered flu shots. She said the clinics didn’t include students because that requires parental consent.
‘We try to go where we can reach the most people possible in one place,” VanDervyver said. She added that flu shots are still available at Pratt Health Department, 712 South Main.
“We’re recommending that people still get a flu shot,” said Terry Gatlin of Gatlin Pharmacy at 112 North Main, one of several locations in Pratt, including other pharmacies and medical offices, where flu shots continue to be available.
Skyline School Nurse Heidi McKennon said all Skyline teachers from preschool through high school have been focusing on flu prevention.
This morning, McKennon said, a third-grade class watched a movie about hand washing.
“Teachers have been really good about cleaning their rooms as a prevention,” McKennon said.
McKennon said she feels this is helping because last year there were more positive cases among the school population of about 400 students, preschool through 12th grade.
“I think the flu just hit worse last year,” she said.
Most of the Skyline students who have gotten the flu are kindergarten through sixth grade.
Pratt USD 382 started spring break Friday so no information was available about flu cases in that student population.