Flu still taking toll on region

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Flu and other illness with flu-like symptoms continues to run high among children and the elderly.

Elementary schools, especially in the Clinton area, have had a higher-than-normal amount of absences.

Clinton Elementary School, for example, has been hit especially hit hard, according to Principal Ben Simmons.

While the school typically has about 20 kids absent out of its 400 students, it's been averaging 58 students out each day since Jan. 19. Last week the school had three to four paraeducators gone a day and some teachers out due either to sick kids of their own, or sick childcare providers.

Simmons said staff has been busy wiping down surfaces. School officials also alert families of children with compromised immune systems so they can decide whether to risk sending their children to school.

Simmons said it seemed to be getting a little better on Tuesday, so he was hopeful the illnesses will be abating soon.

Townview Elementary School had around 22 kids out of 330 students out earlier in the week and two staff members out with the flu, said Principal Randy McClellan.

McClellan said the flu hadn't hit Townview as hard as some other schools in the area.

"We do a good job with cleaning door handles and the place is in good shape. So far we've managed to keep it at bay," he said.

Hackett Elementary School Principal Ryan McReynolds said the school's health room assistant and nurse have been sending about 5-10 kids home a day due to having a fever or illness.

Prairie Hill Elementary School Nurse Wendy Guile said illnesses peaked about two weeks ago with 55 students absent out of about 425. As of Tuesday, she said the number was down to 14.

"We've seen a lot of strep, influenza and a stomach bug that is going around," Guile said.

The influenza surveillance week ending Saturday, Jan. 27 identified 706 cases of influenza in Winnebago County. There were 76 cases of flu recorded in South Beloit; Roscoe, 162; and Rockton, 62, according to information from the Winnebago County Health Department.

South Beloit Fire Chief Mike Davenport said there has been an increase in service calls for flu-like symptoms for the past month, especially among the elderly.

Beloit Fire Department Deputy Chief Joe Murray also said there has been an increase in ambulance calls regarding people who are more sick for the past two to three weeks, although it's unknown if it's related to the flu. Because cold weather can exacerbate breathing issues, he said the recent cold snap could be impacting the higher number of calls.

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