Widespread flu causes 2 area schools, youth center to close today

The John Bryan Center in Yellow Springs will be closed Friday because of widespread flu cases.

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The John Bryan Center in Yellow Springs will be closed Friday because of widespread flu cases.

As statewide influenza-related hospitalizations continue to increase, two area schools and a youth center will close today due to several cases of the flu and strep throat.

Both Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School will be closed today, said superintendent Mario Basora. The schools were open Thursday and sent a letter to parents notifying them of the possible outbreak.

There were 70 or so students who were out sick in the village’s high school and middle school, Basora said. The high school and middle school have a combined 350 to 375 students enrolled, Basora said.

» RELATED: Ohio flu hospitalizations spike

“We need to have kids stay home and give kids three days away from each other,” Basora said. “Hopefully the spread of germs will be significantly decreased as a result.”

Across Ohio there were 630 hospitalizations between Feb. 17 and Feb. 23, according to Ohio Department of Health. That’s up 18 percent from the previous week.

Some Yellow Springs sudents welcomed the day off.

High school senior Kevin Wagner said he’s looking forward to staying away from his sick classmates. Wagner said he witnessed a classmate vomiting in the restroom just last week.

“You’ve got to keep the hand sanitizer on deck, that’s what I do,” Wagner said.

The school district will do some “deeper cleaning” of desks and door handles over the next 24 hours, Basora said. Some evening activities may also be canceled today.

Yellow Springs also closed its John Bryan Youth Center on Friday for “deep cleaning and disinfection” to prevent further spread of the diseases, according to a post on a Facebook page for the Village of Yellow Springs. The youth center will reopen Monday with regular hours.

Schools don’t typically see as widespread of cases as Yellow Springs has seen this week, said Joseph Allen, a doctor at Premier Health Family Care of Vandalia.

“Flu is usually the one that causes this,” Allen said. “It’s fairly uncommon but it’s happened a few times around here.”

Since Oct. 1 there have been 260 flu-related hospitalizations in Montgomery County, 69 in Greene County, 25 in Miami County and 61 in Warren County, according to ODH. There have been 3,806 flu hospitalizations statewide since the start of October.

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Three children have died as a result of the flu in Ohio since Oct. 1, compared to four by this time last flu season, ODH reports. Child deaths are an indicator of the severity of illness during the flu season, according to the ODH.

Just north of Yellow Springs in Clark County, two elderly adults died from the flu in the last month or so.

The closures in Yellow Springs come a year after one of the worst flu seasons in recent years in Ohio.

The number of influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio last season was the highest in five years, according to the final state flu season data. The figures were prompted by an early start, early peak and long season, officials said.

The 17,397 flu-related hospitalization cases reported for the 2017-18 flu season were more than twice as many as the previous season’s 8,661 cases reported by the Ohio Department of Health.

At its peak in January 2018, there were more than 1,800 Ohio flu-related hospitalizations in one week. There were four pediatric deaths last season related to the flu, including one child in Dayton.

Public health officials mobilize each year to encourage vaccinations to slow the spread of the virus, which can lead to not only missed school or work but also death. ODH also encourages people to wash their hands with soap and water, avoid touching their eyes nose and mouth and to stay home if they get sick.

Despite a recent spike, Allen said he doesn’t think this flu season will end up being as bad as last year’s.

“We didn’t get hit quite as hard at the beginning this year,” Allen said. “Typically you get hit with that first wave and then you get hit with that second wave in March so it’s sort of making up for lost time.”

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