The flu hits LHS

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The flu hits LHS

Students should sneeze into tissues to avoid spreading the disease to surfaces where it can remain for 24 hours.

Students should sneeze into tissues to avoid spreading the disease to surfaces where it can remain for 24 hours.

Olivia Devin

Students should sneeze into tissues to avoid spreading the disease to surfaces where it can remain for 24 hours.

Olivia Devin

Olivia Devin

Students should sneeze into tissues to avoid spreading the disease to surfaces where it can remain for 24 hours.

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The flu has had a major impact on Libertyville High School recently, along with the rest of the population in the area.

Mrs. Cameron Traut, the LHS school nurse, has noticed a recent increase: “As of the last few days, we’ve doubled and tripled [in the number of students with the flu]. Now we’re up 47. This is the highest I’ve ever seen it in my 14 years of being here.”

When symptoms of the flu are noticed, there are specific precautions that can be taken to try and stop the spread of the flu. In addition, the monitoring of the flu by the Lake County Health Department helps to track when the flu is at its peak.

The Lake County Health Department is an agency that alerts the public about how the flu fluctuates each year. The health department asks schools in the county, such as LHS, to report the number of students with flu-like symptoms or the flu.

Mrs. Traut tracks students that present flu-like symptoms. The secretaries in the LSTs also report how many students are out with the flu to the nurse. When the parents of students report that their child is missing school due to the flu, they are also included in the report.

Mrs. Traut then reports those numbers to the Lake County Health Department and gets weekly updates to show the fluctuation of the flu. When giving these reports to the Lake County Health Department, everything is anonymous. The numbers are not fully accurate due to the fact that not every parent will remember to report that their child has the flu, for example.  

Emily Waddick, a sophomore, got the flu in mid-February. She was diagnosed with the flu on Thursday, Feb. 15 and missed the following day of school; when she was called out sick, a parent did notify the school that her absence was due to the flu. With the help of her prescribed medicine, she was relieved of the flu by Sunday, Feb. 18.

“The biggest [symptom] was that my body ached. It just felt cold, but not externally cold; it was more like internally cold. I just hurt from the inside out. I also felt like I had a stuffy head and a stuffy nose and my throat hurt. I could tell I was sick just from the way I felt and I’d also move slower,” she said.  

According to the Lake County Health Department, as of Feb. 24, there have been two pediatric deaths, 28 outbreaks and 81 intensive care unit admissions due to the flu. The department reported that during the second week of this calendar year, the number of patients admitted into the hospital for both upper-respiratory infections and flu-like symptoms was at its peak, with more than 200 patients.

According to Mrs. Traut, the symptoms of the flu include a fever over 100 degrees, a cough and/or a sore throat. Headaches and nausea could also sometimes occur while having the flu.

“The flu virus can sit on the surface for a pretty long time,” Mrs. Traut said. “Long enough to where other people can come along and touch that same area, and they could potentially pick up the virus on their hands.”

Mrs. Alisa Wasserman, another LHS school nurse, added that the virus can last up to 24 hours on a hard surface and 15 to 30 minutes on tissues or clothing.

To prevent the flu from spreading, Mrs. Traut stressed the importance of staying home if you have the flu.

“Don’t just come to school with flu-like symptoms just to take a test because you’ve now spread that virus to more students and to more people,” she said. “Whereas if you stay home, you don’t spread it and you also give yourself a chance to fight it and get better faster.”

At LHS, when someone goes to the nurse with flu-like symptoms, there are specific precautions that Mrs. Traut takes. When a student is coughing, they will be offered a mask, they will be isolated from other students and, if needed, the curtains by their cot will be closed. After the student is picked up by a parent or guardian, the cot that they were resting on will be completely sanitized, Mrs. Traut said. The nurses also wipe down anything the student touched.

Mrs. Traut provided some tips on how to prevent the flu from entering your body: “Get the vaccine, wash your hands a lot, and don’t touch your eyes, your face or your mouth. Get lots of sleep and build up your immune system by eating lots of vitamins. Do all of those things to take care of yourself so that your immune system can fight [the virus] if it comes your way as well.”

According to the Lake County Health Department, the flu shot is still available throughout Lake County. You may either contact your doctor or visit www.vaccinefinder.org to search for locations where flu vaccinations are given. The Health Department offers the flu vaccine by appointment at the Immunizations Clinic, located at 2303 Dodge Ave. in Waukegan. To make an appointment, call (847) 377-8470. Existing Health Department patients can get the vaccine from their provider by scheduling an appointment at (847) 377-8800.

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