• 77°

Oxford and Lafayette High School hit by flu-like illness

What appears to be a flu bug has gotten its grip on Oxford High School students and faculty and doesn’t seem to be letting go.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Brian Harvey said 158 students were absent from school for being sick and another 90 left school early and missed at least one period of classes; which is about 16 percent of the school’s population.

“We have also had a spike in teacher absences due to flu,” he said Tuesday evening.

There are 1,193 students enrolled at OHS.

“Monday was high as well,” Harvey said. “But not as high as Tuesday’s numbers.”

Harvey said students showing symptoms of the flu should be kept home to help stop the spread of the illness.

Few cases at Lafayette High

Lafayette County High School Nurse Julie Ingram said she’s had about one or two cases of flu a week but is not seeing the epidemic proportions OHS has had recently.

Ingram said a child with a fever should be kept home for 24 hours after the fever has broken.

“Parents should not send their child to school with a fever because it spreads quickly,” she said.

Sometimes, students come to school feeling fine and then start getting flu-like symptoms during the course of the day. By then, they have exposed others. The best way to avoid flu germs, Ingram said is for students to wash their hands frequently while at school.

For students who think they may be getting sick, it’s best to cough into the elbow or arm, versus the hands that come into contact with so many more surfaces.

In its latest weekly influenza report, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported a statewide rate of influenza-like illness of 4.3 percent, up from 3.5 percent in the previous week and also higher than the 2.8 percent reported for the same week in the 2015-2016 flu season.

District II, which includes Lafayette County, has the second highest flu-like illness rate in the state.