Flu, strep symptoms rolling through area
Health departments debunk rumors of mumps circulating
Health officials in Barry and Lawrence counties are fielding concerns about influenza and other seasonal ailments circulating in the area.
“There’s a lot of influenza going around,” said Janella Spencer, administrator for the Lawrence County Health Department. “Health officials are not giving us any strain, so we don’t know what’s specifically causing the problem.
“I can tell you we have had a really low turnout for flu vaccinations this year. We’re down at least a third to a half from last year in both kids and adults. We’ve figured people didn’t get the shots, so they’re getting the flu.”
Spencer said there is no truth to the rumor that a Lawrence County school district had a confirmed case of the mumps.
“There is no mumps in the county,” Spencer said. “We’ve seen some lymphatic problems, but they did not turn out to be mumps.”
Carol Landstad, registered nurse with the Barry County Health Department, said flu shots given by her department’s offices are down about half from a typical year.
“There has not been much mention in the media of the flu lately,” Landstad said. “I think there have been less cases. People may be getting a better response from the vaccine in use. I think a lot of people don’t get shots unless they get really worried. Some of the illness may simply be cyclical.”
Landstad added she has no confirmation of any mumps cases.
Kristen Earnest, the head nurse for the Monett school district, said in her 10 years as a school nurse, she has never seen a case of the mumps.
“Our staff has talked about the signs and symptoms to watch for,” she said. “Cases have been confirmed in the Springfield and Willard school districts, so it’s definitely on our radar. At the district nurses meeting at the Barry County Health Department, one of nurses there reviewed the things we need to watch.”
Earnest said her staff is encouraging parents to keep their children at home experiencing a fever of 100 degrees or more. Children exhibiting flu symptoms, especially strep throat, should be taken to a doctor before returning to school.
Spencer had a rule of thumb for people feeling ill.
“If you’re feeling sick, stay home,” she said. “Drink lots of fluids. Treat your fever. If you have strep throat symptoms, get that checked out. I’m hearing there’s a lot of that going around. Good hand washing is also a good idea.”