As flu season peaks, two local school districts—Miami Trace in Fayette County and Fairfield in Highland County—closed Friday.
Though a representative from Miami Trace Local Schools confirmed in a Facebook post on Thursday evening that they were closing due to a high volume of influenza B cases, Fairfield Local Schools announced on their website that the district was closed Friday “due to excessive absences.”
“More than 20 percent of our student population in grades K-5 were absent Thursday, and the numbers continue to rise in the middle school and high school,” Fairfield’s website said. “All evening activities for tomorrow evening and the weekend will go on as scheduled. School will resume Tuesday, Jan. 21. (Monday is MLK Day.) Enjoy the long weekend.”
Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner speculated Friday that Fairfield’s absences were also flu-related.
“We assume it was the flu. There’s a lot of stuff going on right now,” Warner said. “We just got our surveillance report for influenza for the last week. Looking at those numbers and those charts, we were pretty on-track with the five-year average up until the last week in December, when we saw a really significant spike in Ohio in flu cases really increasing a lot more than what we normally see.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, the state of Ohio saw a total of 672 flu-related hospitalizations between Jan. 4 and Jan. 11. During the same period in 2019, there were only 365.
Warner said there have been six flu-related hospitalizations in Highland County this flu season, which began around Thanksgiving; however, he added that it’s probably that there were others that weren’t officially categorized as flu-related.
“We’re still in the process of rising to that peak,” Warner said. “At some point in most flu seasons, we’ll start to see that drop down. Really any day now, we’ll see it slowly start to decline. Then normally we’ll see a second spike of influenza cases a little later in the season.”
Warner encouraged people to get their flu vaccines.
“Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself from the flu,” Warner said. “There have been some people who are concerned about whether the most prevalent flu strain right now, one of the influenza B strains, is included in our flu shot, and it definitely is. Our flu shot will protect people from the most prevalent strain of flu out there right now. We encourage people to get their flu vaccines.”
Warner added that those who are sick should cover their coughs and sneezes and stay home to prevent the flu from spreading further, and everyone should wash their hands.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.