Flu Outbreak Shutters Texas School District

Flu screening in Texas
AP File Photo/Harry Cabluck

A flu outbreak is forcing a North Texas school district to shut down for a week because the number of students, teachers, and staff exhibiting influenza-like symptoms continues to soar.

The Bonham Independent School District will close its doors on Wednesday, January 17, and reopen a week later, on January 24, after cleaning crews sanitize classrooms, common campus areas, supplies, and school buses, as recommended by state public health officials.

Bonham ISD Superintendent Marvin Beaty said he decided to cancel classes after so many students, staff, and faculty members manifested flu-like symptoms. Fourteen percent, or 266, of the school district’s 1,900 students were recorded as absent with the flu Tuesday. He told WFAA that one-fourth of his high school staff was also absent Tuesday. Beaty hopes to “stop the cycle of spreading influenza” by closing.

The superintendent said he consulted with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the school board in making the determination to temporarily shutter Bonham ISD’s six campuses.

The school district alerted families about the shutdown in a letter posted on their website and over social media platforms. School administrators stated, in part: “All Bonham ISD campuses have seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases of influenza. As the number of confirmed cases of influenza grows, it is important to increase health and safety protocols for each campus, including disinfection of all buses and spaces. Local health officials have recommended a full 7 days to stop the cycle of spreading influenza.”

Bonham ISD is a small, rural school district located roughly 75 miles northeast of Dallas. The school district said students will not have to make up for the lost time due to these canceled school days.

In December, another Dallas area school district, Sunnyvale ISD, closed for two days when student absences hit 12 percent, as Breitbart Texas reported. Last Friday, the San Antonio Christian School closed for a “flu day,” hoping to reduce influenza exposure by disinfecting the campus.

The flu continues to rage throughout the Lone Star State. Breitbart Texas reported that state public health officials confirmed 1,155 influenza-related deaths occurred so far this flu season. Four were children. Texas continues to dominate the weekly Walgreen’s Flu Index Report with nine of the state’s major metropolitan areas on the pharmacy’s top 10 list of flu-ravaged cities as of January 10.

To date, 85 percent of diagnosed flu cases in Texas were Influenza A, of which nearly 81.5 percent of patients contracted subtype H3N2 and 18.5 percent had H1N1. The less common Influenza B struck 15.3 percent of the flu-ridden population.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the flu, also gripping many other states across the nation, an epidemic. Texas health officials, like the CDC, urge people age six months and older to get a flu shot. They note pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems are at a greater risk for complications should they catch the flu.

DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen told Breitbart Texas it is not too late to get a flu shot. He said it takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for the immune system to respond. He also reminded people that, besides the flu shot, people should do “those things your mother told you to” – wash your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and if sick, stay home.”

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.


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