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McDuffie, Warren see more flu
Dozens of students are out sick with flulike symptoms

More cases of swine flu and type A flu are being reported in both McDuffie and Warren counties, local health experts say, and those figures are expected to increase.

As yet, however, there have been no reported cases of any flu patient being hospitalized.

Significant numbers of students have missed classes in recent days in McDuffie County, either related directly to flu or because of flulike symptoms and viruses accompanied by fever.

McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun met Monday at the school board central office with all principals and nurses. Also attending that meeting was Kathy Linebarger, head nurse of the McDuffie County Health Board.

As of Monday, Mr. LeBrun said there were only two confirmed cases of students having swine flu in the local school system.

"They (health experts) are seeing a lot of type A flu out there, so basically we're saying the regular flu season is already upon us," Mr. LeBrun said. "And that's what most people are having. All we can do is go by what health officials are telling us. So it's less severe than we thought."

At least one local health expert believes, however, that it's too early for type A flu cases to be springing up.

Dr. Daryl Wiley, who also is a member of the McDuffie County Health Board, said Monday that the cases his staff has been seeing in the past several days are swine flu cases or H1N1 flu.

"I think the flu cases we've been seeing around here are milder cases of the H1N1 flu," Dr. Wiley said.

The physician said his staff has quit testing for swine flu and are following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are treating only the high-risk kids ages 5 and younger, adults over 65 and anyone with asthma and other serious respiratory problems," Dr. Wiley said.

There have been at least 15 football players at Thomson High School who have taken ill, according to head coach Luther Welsh. In addition, several girls' softball players have had flulike symptoms.

"A number of our players have been sick in the past week or so, but most of them have come back in three to four days," coach Welsh said.

Coach Welsh and two of his assistants have battled the flu.

"It's just something that's got to run its course and when it does, everything will get back to normal," he said.

A game scheduled this past Saturday with the Harlem Lady Bulldogs was canceled because of various illnesses on the Harlem softball team. The game is to be made up later.

"The CDC is adamant that we don't close the schools and we don't have any type of epidemic or cause for alarm," Mr. LeBrun said. "We just need to use good personal hygiene and go about our business."

McDuffie County schools aren't the only ones affected by flu and flulike symptoms. Several sick students at Briarwood Academy have been sick and missed classes, according to Principal Clayton Parish.

The majority of the students who have been sick are sixth graders, Mr. Parish said.

"We've had only three to four students who have had high fevers related to their sickness," he said. "We're having our teachers wipe down desks, etc. with Clorox wipes and they are using sanitizers in the classrooms so students can wash their hands."

Web posted on Thursday, August 27, 2009

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