Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Thomas Garcia
Senior writer 

Flu hits area schools

About 30 in San Jon, 50 in Tucumcari, absent.


February 15, 2017

A recent outbreak of influenza (flu) virus in Quay County caused several area students to miss school last week and prompted the closure of San Jon Schools Thursday for disinfecting.

“The flu virus has hit our little school hard,” said Cynthia Lee, a San Jon school board member.

There were 30 students and members of the staff who missed school in San Jon last week due to the flu, according to Superintendent Colin Taylor, who said he was among that number.

Taylor said the number of students reported over the past two weeks with the flu prompted him to close the school on Thursday with the school being disinfected in an effort to help stop the spread of the illness.

There were only six students that missed school due to the flu, but in a small school like House, that’s a noticeable number, said Lecil Richards, House schools superintendent.

“We had more than 50 students absent this week at the elementary,” said Aaron McKinney, Tucumcari schools superintendent.

McKinney said several teachers have also missed school due to the flu. He said even the substitute teachers are at risk of getting sick.

There were 15 students absent from Logan schools on Thursday, according to Tommy Thompson, Logan Schools principal, but “we are not sure how many of those were due to the flu.”

Thompson said there has been a trend of students missing school because of the flu or other illnesses since returning from winter break. He said the staff has been working to disinfect the classrooms and equipment at the school to prevent the spread of the illness.

McKinney said disinfecting has its advantages, but it’s still proving hard to keep up with the spread of the virus. He said students come in contact with many surfaces and equipment throughout the day. It is difficult to contain when the students are in constant contact with everything — doors, water fountains, computers and lab equipment.

McKinney said a large problem is that it seems the students have come down with different types of the flu. Some have the stomach bug while others have head and chest colds.

“This is the height of the flu season,” said Linda Sims, family medicine doctor at Sunrise Medical Group. “This latest strain of flu virus has been impacting people of all ages.”

Sims said she has treated numerous patients in the past month for flu, strep throat and upper respiratory illnesses. She said one of the reasons for such a high number of flu cases is the virus spreads easily.

“The best way to prevent the spread of the flu is to stay home,” Sims said. “Bed rest will help with the recovery from the illness and limiting your contact with people keeps the illness from spreading.”

Sims said the virus is airborne and can be spread by physical contact with people and surfaces. She said disinfecting surfaces can help slow the spread, but the virus is communicable in a variety of ways, including coughing, sneezing and shared drinks.

“Using disinfecting wipes and disinfecting sprays is recommended to kill the virus on surfaces,” Sims said. “The use of hand sanitizers is also recommended after contact with surfaces in public.”

Sims said she encourages people to get their annual vaccination at the start of the flu season in December. The flu shot takes two weeks to take effect, but it can be a strong defense against the virus. People can still get the flu shot, as flu season has extended through April, Sims added.


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