Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 11:31AM
Flu strikes Lee’s Summit schools
By Russ Pulley
Flu is widespread this season and health officials advise it’s not too late to get vaccinations to help prevent its spread.
Lee’s Summit, along with the rest of the Kansas City region and Missouri, is seeing above average cases of flu.
The number of flu cases being reported in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District are up, said Janice Phelan, communicants executive director.
According to the district’s Health Services Department, the majority of influenza cases are traditionally seen during January and February. But early in January there are 10 reported cases already, compared to a total of 12 for January 2012. There was a total of 68 for February 2012. The situation is the same at St. Luke’s East Hospital.
“We have definitely seen an increase in flu over previous seasons and haven’t seen numbers this high since 2009. We began to see our fist cases of flu in August with a peak around the New Year’s holiday. We have tested hundreds of patients as the symptoms are rampant,” said Susie Krug.
Lee’s Summit Medical Center also has gotten flu patients.
“We’ve been seeing some flu cases all year (2013),” said Corrine Everson, vice president of business development and marketing for HCA Midwest Health System
But even with elevated numbers, this region hasn’t yet been as hard hit as others, said Dorshow-Gordon, epidemiologist with the Jackson County Health Department.
“Missouri seems to be running behind the rest of the country with the flu,” she said.
Dorshow-Gordon said there have been no reported deaths of children in this area that she is aware of. Cases of flu reported to the county seemed to have peaked around Christmas and appear to be falling, she said.
Kansas City and Independence have their own health departments.
From Sept. 9 into Jan. 6, in Jackson County outside those cities, there were 497 cases reported, with 53 percent showing up as Influenza B, a less severe strain, 17 percent as Influenza A and 30 percent were not typed, she said.
Dorshow-Gordon said Influenza A had greater prevalence in other regions.
The federal Center for Disease Control reports that for the week of Jan. 5 there were widespread reports of flu in most states, including Missouri and Kansas. Reports lag because of time required to gather data. Flu is mainly transmitted through coughing. And it’s not too late to get a vaccine, Dorshow-Gordon said.
The three best steps to prevent flu:
• Get vaccinated
• Thorough hand washing, use warm water and soap
• Cough hygiene, by coughing into the crook of an arm, not hands