Influenza-like illness and high absenteeism reported among students
BOSTON - The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced today that the Winsor School, a private girls’ school in the Longwood area, will close for seven days starting tomorrow, May 20, because of unusually high levels of influenza-like illness in recent days. Public health officials said they hope that the temporary closure will prevent new infections and avoid unnecessary illness.
The Boston Public Health Commission has been assessing the rates and causes of school absenteeism in Boston, and has been in close contact with the administration at the Winsor School. Over the past several days, the number of students absent due to flu-like illness has been unusually high. Today 34 students were absent from school. The school has 430 students enrolled in grades 5 through 12.
Those in the Winsor school community are being asked to refrain from all public activities during the seven day time period to help limit the spread of infection to others. School will re-open on May 27 for students, teachers, and staff who are not ill.
Anyone who develops flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue should refrain from public activities for seven days after the onset of illness or for 24 hours after symptoms have resolved – whichever is longer.
Most people with influenza recover and do not require a specific medication against influenza. However, people who have other health problems such as lung disease (including asthma), heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, a compromised immune system or cancer, or who are pregnant should call their healthcare provider for advice. In addition, if someone who has medical problems or is pregnant and has very close contact with someone with influenza, they should check with their healthcare provider to see if they need preventive medicine.
BPHC recommends that everyone take the following steps to reduce their risk of illness:
• Cover your mouth when you cough, either with your sleeve or a tissue.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand waterless cleaners are also effective.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you are sick with a fever and cough or sore throat, stay home for at least 24 hours after all of your symptoms are gone or for seven days – whichever is longer.
• Stay away from clinics and hospitals unless you have severe symptoms, and notify your doctor or the clinic before you arrive, or as soon as you arrive, so that you can be appropriately isolated from others.