Flu outbreak causes Christmas to come late

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A flu outbreak at an East Texas school is keeping nearly 30 students a day at home. Halfway through flu season, health officials say it's no surprise, as holiday festivities increase contact with others.

For weeks they've practiced the music, set the stage, and made dozens of angel costumes. But those looking forward to Brook Hill's Lower School annual Christmas play will have to wait a bit longer.

"It's kind of a combination of all of these things hitting all at once," said principal Bill Seronello. "Some leads in the play and the musical solos were all sick."

All students had flu like symptoms, keeping up to 30 students a day at home fighting a high fever. Other schools share the problem, last week a flu-like illness kept more than 70 students out at Westside Elementary in Jacksonville.

"We have seen epidemics, outbreaks like this before during flu season in the last five years," said Jamie Andersh with Northeast Texas Public Health District. "A lot of people are out and about, it's time to shop for Christmas, we're in big crowds so we're starting to see the illnesses really come out now and they're spreading much faster especially in schools."

The Center for Disease Control reports Texas is experiencing significantly fewer flu cases than other states, listing its flu status as sporadic. Health officials say if you want to protect yourself against the flu it's not too late to get your shot or another option is the flu mist. Two upsides to the mist, no needles and it goes to work as soon as you spray.

Back at Brook Hill, practice for the big play continues for an unorthodox Christmas performance. "We'll just postpone it until January. We'll have Christmas in January," said Seronello.

Brook Hill tells us 30 elementary school students stayed out sick today. The health district says the standard flu shot will run you $20. The mist goes for $25, it's only recommended for those between the ages of 2 and 49.

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