East Texas Flu

Huntington Elementary is one of many East Texas schools that's been having a high absence rate lately.

Huntington Elementary Assistant Principal Kim Cook said, "We've had about 14% of our children absent from school today. And we've had several that have gone home for flu like symptoms."

The flu has been hitting East Texans unusually hard this January, keeping health providers extremely busy.

Dr. Cristina Graves of the Children's Clinic of Lufkin told us, "About half of what I've seen today is the flu. Typically, we see strip, we see cold and sinus infection. But today 50% of the kids I've seen have tested positive for influenza virus."

"We have had what the state has called widespread flu activity. That means we're seeing an increase by at least of what we've seen last week this week," said Meredith Standford, Public Health Coordinator for the Angelina County Health District.

So why are local kids getting hit so hard with the flu?

Graves said, "I's not necessarily that their immune systems are not capable of handling it. It's that children are maybe not as hygenic as adults."

Standford told us, "We typically see diseases of many kinds spread through children. Mainly because children don't take precautions to wash their hands or to cover their coughs."

"For one, they're packed into classrooms with 30 children in a setting. Secondly, they don't think about the things we as adults do; they don't wash their hands frequently. They do things like play with their friends, and share toys," added Graves.

Experts recommend children and adults get a flu shot this season if they haven't already. But they emphasize that avoiding the flu starts with proper hygiene.