Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Flu-like Illness" Sweeping Michigan Schools

Not seeing this out of the Detroit area yet, but we have a rapidly growing problem over here on the west side. Numerous schools, enough to run a crawl on the bottom of the screen on our local TV stations, are closed due to "flu-like" illness - with some districts shutting down entirely. And, in the time I've taken to write this, more stories are coming out of the north, and mid-Michigan as well.

Calhoun County officials are now pointing to H1N1. Not good.

The flu-like illness that closed three middle schools in Calhoun County is likely H1N1 and not the seasonal flu, the county's health director told 24 Hour News 8.

"Our surveillance would suggest that the entire load of influenza-like illness is due to the pandemic influenza," Dr. Greg Harrington said. "There's no evidence that we have the typical or routine seasonal influenza currently circulated."

Some Calhoun County schools are seeing as many as 30 percent of students sick with flu-like symptoms. Athens Middle School, Lakeview Middle School and Harper Creek Middle School are closed.

MPR is linking the closure of an elementary school in St. Johns to "swine flu", and WILX reports Northwest in Jackson County is closed. 9 & 10 News in Cadillac is reporting that this is hitting in northern lower UP as well, with Evart and East Jordan schools shutting their doors.

It's in the UP as well. Escanaba's Daily Press is reporting school closures there, and the Houghton-Hancock Mining Gazette is also calling this H1N1 as the entire Dollar Bay-Tamarack City district has been shut down.

Livingston County officials are certain this H1N1, with widespread absences in districts there.

"We are seeing increased school absences, with a good percentage of them attributed to H1N1," (Livingston County Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Donald) Lawrenchuk said. "What that tells us is that this pandemic is in all our districts, all our schools, and affects all age levels. It's ubiquitous."

WWJ (and others) are reporting that an EPIC/MRA poll shows most people won't get the H1N1 vaccine, but one wonders if people will start to change their minds as this sweeps the state (and the media turns it into "the story"). They also have a very nice web page that has all the links to state and national resources and more information on the flu.

Stay home if you are sick. And wash your hands frequently. Other than that - good luck, because it looks like this is everywhere now.