Flu could be on downswing - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Flu could be on downswing

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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:00 am

As cold and flu season marches on, school nurses in Kootenai County say they're seeing some cases of influenza among students, but nothing unusual.

Last week's "flu surveillance" report prepared by Jeff Lee, a registered nurse and the epidemiologist for the Panhandle Health District, indicates that the school absentee rate is about 8 percent, the upper limit for normal absence rates.

The absentee rate in the Coeur d'Alene district is about 7 percent in the elementary schools and hovering near 12 percent in the secondary buildings.

"We've had some little bumps at various schools but I've not heard of any real concerns regarding absenteeism," said Cindy Perry, Coeur d'Alene's lead nurse.

She said they've seen isolated cases, but "nothing that has hit a threshold beyond the usual flu."

School officials in the Lakeland district report that they have had "a few" confirmed cases of Influenza type A and probably others with symptoms but no confirmation.

Susan Conti, the lead nurse for the Post Falls School District, reports they've seen a decline in influenza cases being reported.

"Many doctors are not bothering to culture an ill person since it wouldn't change the care and culture typing can be expensive," Conti reports.

Health district statistics show that for the last two weeks, the number of patients in Kootenai, Bonner and Shoshone counties being tested for flu has dropped significantly since testing peaked during the third week in January.

The rate of positive tests has dropped to 8 percent, which is below the 10 percent flu outbreak threshold.

"But to say the outbreak is over, that has to continue for three weeks," Lee said.

He noted that statistics coming out of the Centers for Disease Control indicate the flu could be on the downswing in the nation's eastern states.

"But we're still seeing widespread flu activity throughout the western states," he said.

The best way to avoid getting the flu, Lee said, is to get a flu shot.

He encouraged people to stay away from people who are sick, and stay at home if they become sick themselves.

"Cover your cough and wash your hands," Lee said. "It's those low-tech things that make the difference."

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