Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ill Timed Flu-Like Symptoms Are Striking Students Just before Holidays

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ill Timed Flu-Like Symptoms Are Striking Students Just before Holidays

Article excerpt

Flu - or something like the flu - is making a lot of youngsters sick at schools in the St. Louis area.

Some schools in St. Louis County report student absenteeism at double and triple the normal rate. Several school districts in mid-Missouri shut down altogether last week because so many students took ill.

At least one parochial school - Salem Lutheran in Affton - will be closed today because 23 percent of its students were out sick on Monday.

School nurses blame the flu bug, the stomach bug or both for the empty seats in classrooms. Just ask Lynn Buss, whose nurse's office at Webster Groves High School saw a stream of students coming in Monday with complaints of sore throats, headaches and stomach aches.

Buss sent a few students home and some students back to class; three stretched out on cots in little rooms off her office. Some gave advice to Buss, an unflappable, cheerful sort with short white hair.

"Just send everybody home - there's something going around," said Darrea Bridges, 16, a junior who ended up going back to class.

More than 10 percent of students at Webster Groves High School were absent last week. Buss sent 12 students home on Monday - normally she sends four or five home. Sorrento Springs Elementary in the Parkway School District reported 13 percent of its students absent on Monday, double the normal amount for this time of year.

Type A influenza - the virus that so many people got flu shots for this fall - has shown up in St. Louis County, said Dr. Mike Williams, who heads the communicable disease office for the St. Louis County Department of Health. The county has 17 confirmed cases so far, but that number is deceiving because only a few doctors conduct tests to see if their patients have a particular flu virus.

International health-reporting services on the Internet say Russia and Paris have large numbers of Type A influenza cases, Williams said. …

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