The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting this year's flu season could be severe. Local health officials say the last time the flu outbreak was labeled severe was back in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic.
Here in the Heartland, the Leopold, Missouri school district closed its doors on Friday after the infection spread through the hallways.
“Usually we run about 98 percent attendance, which is excellent for schools, this week it started dropping and on Wednesday it was at about 84 percent,” Superintendent Keenan Kinder said.
Kinder says, with this extra day of rest, hopefully students will be back to 100 percent so they can ace their final exams next week.
“It was more a matter of, not because we thought the school was dirty, but to let kids rest up and the ones that were sick, to get ready to come back on Monday,” Kinder said.
Health officials say that extra day of rest isn't a bad idea, especially as flu season progresses. According to the CDC, “Early data suggests that the current 2014-2015 flu season could be severe.”
That's partly because the flu shot is less effective this year than in the past.
“Severe is when we had the H1N1 come out,” Vanessa Landers with the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Department said.
Landers says you can help stop the spread in schools by keeping kids at home even after the worst of their illness is gone.
“Three to five days is what they're going to be contagious so you're going to want to go a little bit past that and make sure that you're free of fever and that you feel like you can actually do normal daily routine,” Landers said.
As for Leopold school leaders, they're fighting the flu full force.
“Mopping the halls, Lysoling doorknobs, and wiping down desks, cleaning faucets, all that kind of stuff,” Kinder said.