December 18, 2003

Flu Arrives Early, Locally And Statewide

The recent outbreak of influenza has gained national attention. The flu has not bypassed Scotland County during this troubling time.

The average daily census at Scotland County Memorial Hospital more than doubled last week according to public relations director Bud Wilson. More than half of the increased patient load was created by the flu outbreak.

The illness hit Scotland County R-I schools hard, particularly on Friday, December 12 when attendance was down to 89 percent because of illness-related absences. Forty-two students were gone from the high school alone.

However the weekend seemed to cure some of the problems as the numbers were back up to 92.5 percent attendance, with only 48 students absent in both the high school and elementary school combined.

“On Friday we began discussing the possibility of canceling school if things didn’t get better,” said Superintendent LeRoy Huff. “But on Monday we were pleasantly surprised to see the numbers going back in the right direction.”

Missouri has reports of 2,087 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza from October 1 to December 6 - 1,017 of which were reported during the last week of that period. There were 19 cases during the same time last year.

“That is the earliest we have seen large numbers of cases this early in the season since before 1992,” said Dick Dunn, director, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

The first confirmed case of influenza of the 2003-2004 season was reported on October 27. “During the 2002-2003 season, we didn’t see the first case until December 31.” The disease is already widespread in many states.

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