No epidemic here

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By MAUREEN DOLAN

Staff Writer

Colds, flu and other winter maladies aren’t taking as big a toll on student attendance in Coeur d’Alene as they are in other places at this point in the flu season.

The Kellogg School District in the Silver Valley shut down Pinehurst Elementary School Wednesday due to a flu outbreak. The district canceled classes at the rest of its schools Thursday through the weekend after district-wide absences reached 28 percent on Wednesday.

In Coeur d’Alene, the picture is very different, for now.

“We are experiencing the usual number of illness-related absences for this time of year,” said Nichole Piekarski, the Coeur d’Alene School District’s lead school nurse, on Friday.

Panhandle Health District, which monitors occurrences of influenza, has not notified the Coeur d’Alene School District of any confirmed cases of influenza involving enrolled students since this flu season began. Parents, however, have informed the district of four confirmed cases of influenza.

There was some chatter among parents of students at Ramsey Elementary this week about a rash of strep.

“Ramsey has no confirmed cases of strep right now,” said school district spokesman Scott Maben.

There have been a few cases of strep at the school in recent weeks, he said.

A “confirmed case” requires a letter from a physician or medical provider that the student has tested positive.

“Parents are not required to report this to us. A district-wide email requesting that parents voluntarily inform us is going out today,” Maben said.

There were 54 students excused for illness on Friday from Ramsey Elementary. If 74 kids, which would be 10 percent of the school’s population, were absent due to illness over several days, it would be cause for concern.

Maben said that’s the point when Panhandle Health District begins an epidemiology investigation.

In the meantime, school nurses in Coeur d’Alene are reminding families that the best defense against spreading the flu virus is regular handwashing and covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

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