Owen avoiding widespread flu outbreak so far

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By Molly Haines

Although an outbreak of the flu has caused several Kentucky school districts to shut down, Owen County has been fortunate so far.
According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the current flu activity level for Kentucky is widespread, meaning outbreaks of influenza or influenza-like cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in at least half the regions of the state.
April Harris, a health promotions manager with Three Rivers District Health Department, said there are no culture-confirmed flu cases in the county, but there have been 33 positive rapid tests.
According to Harris, culture tests are required to be reported, but rapid tests are voluntarily reported, so the number could be higher.
Harris said as of Tuesday the department alone had given 1,143 doses of the flu vaccine to Owen County residents. The vaccine is free from the department with proof of residence.
“We have made one additional request for the vaccine for the four counties we cover,” Harris said. “The number of doses we’ve given out this year is about the same as previous years.”
The flu vaccine is also available through primary care doctors in Owen County.
Owen County School District Director of Pupil Personnel Charlotte Elkins said attendance is down in each of the district’s four schools.
“This tends to be our low time of the year anyway,” Elkins said. “There’s interruptions and not knowing if we’re having school or not because of the weather. We’re off our average by about two or three points.”
At Owen County Primary School, which houses kindergarten through second grade, Elkins said attendance began dropping two months ago.
“We’ve had stomach viruses more than anything,” Elkins said. “The primary school got that early. Usually Christmas break helps, the kids have that time to get better, but our attendance is still about the same as it was before Christmas.”
During her four years as director of pupil personnel, the district has never closed because of illness, Elkins said.
Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are most susceptible to the flu.
“Outside of getting the flu vaccine we urge good hand washing hygiene, social distancing, or staying out of others’ personal space and staying home if you’re sick so the people around you do not get infected.”