Last Thursday, 37 students reportedly out sick from Lamesa High School. Then Friday, 74. "As they (attendance officers) checked around, they discovered we were indeed in the middle of a flu epidemic," said Ken McCraw, Lamesa Independent School District Superintendent.
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This week, all Lamesa schools have been hit hard. Monday, out of more than 2000 students 212 were out sick. Tuesday 196. Wednesday 239, yesterday 225 and today, 211.
Inside the school, NewsChannel 11 found evidence that students are ill. Empty desks, a cough drop was found on the floor in the hallway. And in every class room, cans of disinfectant spray sitting within reach. Faculty are trying to protect those students who have managed to dodge the epidemic.
"I've been watching reports across the state and I've seen it more from Houston to east Texas all the way north. We didn't see it move continually across the state. It seems that it jumped here," said McCraw.
The Flu-like bug is impacting Lamesa schools in many ways. Not only are students falling sick during six week exams, but the school is losing $25 dollars in state funding every day each student is absent.
"If the flu lingers on for an extended period of time, then it can be a significant impact to us." Dr. Uptal Ghosh from Lamesa's Medical Arts Health Clinic says the flu hit Lamesa earlier than usual this year. "This is a very aggressive illness which means it spreads very fast. Mainly by contact. Maybe air bourne. Hand washing would be a big one to help prevent it," said Dr. Ghosh.
Will the flu epidemic make its way to Lubbock? Only time will tell.
The flu can only be diagnosed by a lab test. And so far, only one case has been confirmed by the Lubbock Health Department. But there are a few symptoms to watch out for: respiratory problems, dry cough, also fever and body aches. For more information, contact your family physician.