Keeping the influenza virus out of schools

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Reported by: Brittany Jeffers
Updated: 1/08/2013 9:15 am Published: 1/07/2013 10:03 pm

Students across Green Country are headed back to the classroom this week and educators hope to keep the influenza virus out.

Many teachers and school nurses are taking a proactive approach to stop the spread of germs following recent influenza cases that have hospitalized children in Oklahoma and nationwide.

Schools nurses with Sapulpa Public Schools, Kristen Woolery and Lyn Bingman, tell FOX23 that during the winter months they can never be too prepared to handle illness.

“This time of year it always comes around,” said Kristin Woolery, “Especially after the holidays when the kids have been around family members that possibly could have had something and passed it on to them.”

Bingman says the school atmosphere can be a breeding ground for germs. She says educators will reiterate the importance of healthy hygiene habits to prevent sickness from spreading.

“We are trying to teach everyone to break the cycle,” said Bingman. To help minimize germs, she says flu shots have been encouraged for faculty members, hand sanitizer is available in classrooms and teachers will encourage frequent hand washing. Bingman also added that they are advising parents to keep their children at home if they are a running a fever.

53 children ages 18 and under have been hospitalized in Oklahoma with influenza as of January 1, 2013, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Dr. Sarah Elneser, DO, says she has seen a recent increase in patients suffering from respiratory illness at Utica Park Clinic in Jenks.

“We are seeing a rise in the flu cases, we are seeing pneumonia and even strep throat,” said Dr. Elneser.

Dr. Elneser tells FOX23 that she has relied on Hillcrest’s partnership campaign with the Tulsa Health Department “Don’t Bug Me” to get the word out about germ prevention and healthy habits.

“I think that most people don’t realize that even though we had flu shots early in the season the flu season does last as long as March,” said Dr. Elneser.

Dr. Elneser says the most important thing that school children can do to prevent the spread of germs is to wash their hands frequently.

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