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Soulsbyville, CA — According to Curtis Creek Principal Terri Bell her school had more students absent today than any other day this school year. She noted that 10 to 12 kids were sent home sick. Bell stated that the large number absent today could have to do with other factors than the flu. She felt that everyone who comes to school should come when they are well, and if they are not well, to stay home to avoid spreading illness.

Sonora and Summerville High Schools said their attendance numbers had not been finalized for today yet. When looking at the records both schools felt that an average number of absences would be recorded with no record high. Lori Green, Attendance and Discipline Supervisor at Sonora High School, said that they had an average number out last week as well.

Cathy Owens, Sonora Elementary Secretary says, “10 students went home today, which is really high.” Her attendance numbers were not final yet but out of 681 students 30 were confirmed out.

School absentee numbers get reported to Tuolumne County Health Officer Dr. Todd Stolp. He says there have been clusters of the stomach flu which is very different from influenza. He noted that Influenza B showed up early in the Mother Lode but only 11 out of 100 tests were positive with a peak in cases two weeks ago. He says, “Influenza A didn’t show up till December and there was a jump in cases yesterday,” on January 13th. With the jump in cases, cultures were done to type the virus strain and 60% were found to be H3N2. Previously only 20% of people with fevers and respiratory problems who sought medical help had the H3N2 strain.

H3N2 is the same as other outbreaks across the country. According to Dr. Stolp it is “well matched to the vaccine that is currently available.”

For both the flu and stomach flu washing your hands is the best way to prevent spreading germs and becoming sick.

For those who choose to get vaccinated with a shot Dr. Stolp says they cannot infect anyone else but their immune system will be stimulated and some report being slightly achey. He also noted that the nasal spray form of the vaccine was shown in one study to be passed from one baby to another but the vaccine triggers the immune system in the nose and dies at higher (internal) body temperatures.

The Health Department continues to monitor school absenteeism and the virus strains that are causing illness in Tuolumne County.

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