Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2001

Students hit hard by illness

February 1, 2001

Between snow days and sick days, it's been a tough winter for Eudora educators.

The schools have been hit harder than usual with flu-like illnesses this year, causing many students to miss several days of school.

Flu, headache and scarlet fever are among some of the illnesses floating around the schools.

Eudora School District Nurse Kathy Kellerman said an unusually high number of students in all grades have complained of headaches and fever. The symptoms generally last between four and five days. Kellerman said the high number of people affected and the persistence of their symptoms is unusual.

"You don't usually have that duration," she said. "You might have one or two (students) but not 10 to 20."

Two cases of scarlet fever have been reported at Nottingham Elementary, in addition to many cases of strep throat, Kellerman said.

"(Scarlet fever) is not a big issue, it just doesn't normally occur. What I was more concerned with was kids with headaches and fevers," the nurse said.

Kellerman recommended that parents monitor their child's behavior and physical condition during the time of sickness. Even though a parent's first thought may be to give a child some medicine and send him to school, it could lead to further illness. Putting a child with a weakened immune system in a classroom with other sick children could worsen the condition of a previously sick child, she explained.

In every case, notify a physician if symptoms persist, she said.

For those not yet hit by the flu bug, preventative measures can be taken.

Barbara Schnitker, director of nurses for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said flu shots were still available.

"It's one of those things where we're not over the flu season yet. It could last until April," Schnitker said. "So, it's not too late to still get a flu shot."

The health department also gives vaccines for Hepatitis B in conjunction with a state program that allocates funds for the shots at a lower cost. For example, a series of three shots given over six months for an adult would normally cost $39 per shot through the health department. With the state-funded program, the shots cost $7 each.

Hepatitis B is a blood-borne viral infection that attacks the liver and can be spread through shared razors, sexual contact or shared toothbrushes.

Schnitker said the state program ends in September, so participants must start the program by the end of March to receive all of the shots at the discount price.

The health department started a campaign aimed at adolescents ages 12-17 in the fall of 2000, but the results were disappointing, she said. Anyone born on or after July 1, 1982, is eligible for the vaccine.

"We didn't have as good a response as we would have liked and we still have vaccine," she said.

Representatives from the Lawrence-Douglas County Heath Department visit Eudora from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., the second Friday of each month at Eudora City Hall. The next scheduled visit is Feb. 9.

Flu vaccines are $8 for adults, $7 for children. Adult tetanus and hepatitis B vaccines are $7. No one will be denied for inability to pay, Schnitker said.

The health department is located at 200 Maine Street, Suite B, Lawrence. For more information, call 843-0721.

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