Health Officials: ‘Just a matter of time before flu hits where you live’

Posted at 11:35 AM, Sep 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-22 18:18:46-04

Students at Occohannock Elementary went back to school Monday after it shut down last week because so many students were sick with flu-like symptoms.

The school has had a number of students report to the school clinic with flu-like symptoms all week, according to Superintendent Eddie Lawrence. There was a spike in the number Friday, he says, which prompted officials to want to dismiss early to disinfect the school. It was less than half of the school, Lawrence says. The school has been in contact with the health department, but were not told by the health department to close. They made the decision on their own.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with an official from the Health Department and they say they've seen a high number of cases of the flu over the past two weeks and believe that this outbreak is community wide.

According to Eastern Shore's Health District Director, there were 48 positive cases of the flu in the last week alone.

They have not seen it come in this early in the county in at least 30 years, and they say it's only a matter of time before the flu makes its way from the Eastern Shore to Hampton Roads.

"It’s concerning that is up this early because usually you see it in October and later into the winter season," said Virginia Department of Health spokesman Larry Hill.

He says because of the flu outbreaks, the local health departments have been keeping an eye out for possible flu-like patterns in Hampton Roads. But as of Monday, the outbreak is contained only to the central part of the Eastern Shore. However, health departments are working with school districts in Hampton Roads asking them to be on alert for any outbreaks.

Virginia Beach school officials say they are aware of the outbreak and already have preventative measures in place for the flu season. They say the schools are regularly disinfected and that they give parents tips on what they can do at home.

Health officials say now is the time to take action and get your flu shot.

"It's just a matter of time to see what happens," Hill said. "The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated."