TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Students out with the flu earlier this week have begun returning to class at Otter Creek Middle School. OCMS had about 20% of its student body out earlier this week. The Vigo County School Corporation believes most of those cases were due to the flu.
The school remained in session despite requests from parents to close it. The School Corporation felt they had a pretty good handle on what they were dealing with, and it didn't take long for flu numbers at Otter Creek to drop.
Once a school sees 20% of its student body absent, it must report that to the state. If it's health-related, the local health department also gets a call. The School Corporation says while 20% is a very high absence rate, it's not unheard of this time of year.
"Historically if you look back at weeks 19, 20 and 21... that's where we are on the calendar... you can see these things will probably occur," said Dr. Tom Balitewicz of VCSC.
Dr. "B" (he gave us permission to call him this) also told us school secretaries use a form asking specific questions of parents and guardians calling in kids sick for the day. Most of the form deals with flu-like symptoms. So if a parent reports those symptoms, VCSC will track that data.
"We were ahead of this," said Dr. B. "We make sure we're documenting these things as they call in."
Dr. Darren Brucken of the Vigo County Health Department said flu numbers in the county remain steady. We are seeing a shift, however, from Influenza A to Influenza B. Influenza A typically has respiratory-related symptoms: coughing, etc. Influenza B sees more gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Dr. Brucken says to wash your hands often, and stay home if you feel sick.