Doctors worry cold weather will cause flu season to peak again

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by Karen Hopkins, 13NEWS

WVEC.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 7:05 PM

NORFOLK-- Doctors predict flu season will peak again, and the cold weather might make the situation worse.

Dr. Carolyn Moneymaker, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at CHKD, is encouraging people to take care of themselves.

"The cold weather drives people inside and the flu is easily spread. Also, the chilly temperatures can irritate mucus membranes, making you predisposed to catching the virus."

According to the Virginia Department of Health, cases of flu are still widespread, which is the highest level of concern. However in the past couple of weeks, doctors are seeing fewer people infected with the virus.

"The most important message that needs to get out is that pregnant women, in their second trimester and beyond, need to take the flu shot. Also kids and the elderly also need to get vaccinated," said Moneymaker.

There's still about six weeks left in flu season. Although another outbreak is expected, Dr. Moneymaker hopes it's not as bad as the last spike in sickness. "I'm not sure if it's going to be as substantial as this one has been. This one has been national. It's been widespread across the country."

13NEWS checked with all local school districts to see if their students are getting sick with the flu recently. Here are some replies.

Virginia Beach Schools: VBCPS isn’t seeing any dramatic increases in absences by either staff or students, not more than what is typical for this time of year. Like most school districts in the area, we are working closely with the Department of Health, using our guidelines that have been in place for several years and continuing to get the word out to parents and staff about the flu.

Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools: Unfortunately we do not have a concrete number to give you as we do not track absences by illness.

Hampton City schools: HCS Health Services is monitoring the absentee report daily and it is also sent to the Hampton Health Department. We are seeing the typical amount of absences for this time of year and when there has been a spike in absenteeism for the day it has turned out to be for a variety of issues such as strep throat, colds, flu, sinus infections and also other issues not involving illness. However, we sent an electronic message to parents and staff that provided a few tips to help prevent getting the flu and reminded them to stay home if they are sick and have a fever for 24 hours without fever reducing medication.

Suffolk Public Schools: does not count absentees by illness.  Overall, SPS has not seen any spike in January.  It's been the typical amount of absences for this time of year.

York County Schools: No YCSD schools have reported any widespread student absences. We do not have a reporting requirement for determining if it is the flu or another ailment behind an absence, so I would refrain from providing an estimate tied specifically to the flu.

Isle of Wight County Schools: As of right now we are not experiencing a high number of absences due to the flu. We had a terrible epidemic prior to the holiday break but seem to have gotten past it.

 

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