BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Fall temperatures are not quite here yet, but don’t that let fool you. Flu season is here.
The Brighton School, a small K-12 school in Baton Rouge, has had 38% of its high school students affected by the flu or flu-like symptoms. Students from the school share a cafeteria and some classrooms with younger students and out of an abundance of caution, the administration decided to cancel school through Oct. 4.
On Monday, Oct. 7, classes resumed as normal.
“The strand of flu that some of our students were getting diagnosed with, it’s a pretty tough thing,” said Head of School Kenneth Henderson.
Henderson says students could be out up to five days with the illness and decided the best way to keep it from spreading was with separation.
“It was definitely not something that we wanted to do, but we felt like it was the best for our particular situation at this time,” Henderson said. “We are also a very close school. K through 12 eat in the same lunchroom, use some of the same classrooms, play in the same gym, so it’s easy to spread across the grade levels.”
Dr. Michelle Flechas, a pediatrician at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health, says they’ve been getting cases of influenza B for the last two weeks.
“This time of the year, we typically see a lot of strep throat, we see a lot of stomach viruses, a lot of runny noses that can lead to sinus infections, but typically not flu,” she said. “Typically, flu season is supposed to hit between January and February when flu peaks, but this year, we’ve had an early outbreak.”
Dr. Flechas says the best way to avoid the flu is by getting the vaccine, which is available in Baton Rouge already, despite the fact it’s only the beginning of October.
“The current flu vaccine should treat the flu strains that are circulating through the community right now. Every four years, they guess which four strains of flu are going to hit the United States and they put those four strains in the vaccine. It isn’t until the middle of flu season that we find out this strain matches with what was in the vaccine.”
Additionally, Dr. Flechas says you won’t get the flu by getting a flu shot because there’s no live virus in the vaccine nowadays.
“The number one thing we can do to keep our children and ourselves from getting the flu is getting our flu vaccines," she said.
Both East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish school systems say they haven’t had a flu outbreak at this time, but officials there say they are watching for any upticks in cases. Central High School did say it has had a small number of students battling the flu.