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AUSTINTOWN Flulike illness causes increase in absenteeism at middle schools



Published: Sun, February 9, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Other schools and school districts in the Valley have not reported above-average absenteeism.

By WILLIAM K. ALCORN

VINDICATOR HEALTH WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- The week brought a high incidence of flulike symptoms to many pupils at Austintown Middle School and Austintown Frank Ohl Middle School.

Many other schools in the area, however, have apparently avoided the flu bug -- so far.

Frank Ohl, with a school population of 750, had 94 pupils absent Tuesday, 103 on Wednesday, and 59 on Thursday, said Angeline Frasca, school nurse.

She said pupils had flulike symptoms, including low-grade fever, headaches and some vomiting. Normal absenteeism at Frank Ohl is about 30, she said.

Absenteeism was also up this week at Austintown Middle School, said Faith Faber, school nurse.

About 70 were absent Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was even higher Monday, she said. Normal absenteeism at the school, which has a pupil population of 845, is about 40 per day.

Faber said the sick pupils were hit suddenly and hard by the flulike symptoms, and are missing a couple of days or more of classes. As of Thursday, they were still sending children home "right and left," she said.

Faber said she believes the symptoms are caused by a virus, but not by the classic flu for which vaccinations are given.

Flu symptoms include fever, coughing and headaches, she said.

As of Thursday, the flu had not affected attendance at Austintown High School, school nurse practitioner Jan Gorsuch said.

Other schools unaffected

Some other area schools said they have not been hit by the flu bug.

Champion and Youngstown City school officials said absenteeism was normal for this time of year. Howland High School Principal Frank Thomas said the number of flu cases there was small. "I don't think there has been a noticeable difference," he said.

There were reports of flu in Roosevelt Elementary School in Hubbard, but Hubbard Schools Superintendent James Herrholtz said "we have not been hit yet."

Likewise, Forum Health Northside Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Salem Community Hospital and Sharon Regional Hospital said they had not experienced an unusual influx of flu cases.




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