It’s no secret that with the cold comes flu season, and in Dawson Creek, positive cases of influenza have been confirmed by Northern Health.
“We know that there’s influenza circulating in the community. We’ve had positive results on tests done on students at Notre Dame School in Dawson Creek,” said Eryn Collins, communications officer for Northern Health.
The health authority conducted the tests after the school reported that more than 10 per cent of students were absent. The principal of Notre Dame School, Terri Haynal, would not comment.
However, Collins said that this nothing to be concerned about.
“We know influenza is circulating out in the community along with a variety of other viruses and so it’s not unusual at all to see it popping up in schools – it’s flu season essentially,” said Collins.
Northern Health has notification policies in place for any schools experiencing a lot of missing students.
“We do surveillance as part of our normal public health policy and we have had some reports of school absenteeism, that’s a surveillance program where schools reports to our medical health officers if they start seeing absentee rates higher than 10 per cent,” said Collins.
“At that point, public health will go in to investigate what the cause of the illness is.”
Notre Dame School is the only school that has reported an absenteeism rate of over 10 per cent to Northern Health
“There may be illnesses circulating in other schools... they’ve just not specifically come to Northern Health’s attention through the 10 per cent absenteeism surveillance program,” said Collins.
If parents do notice that their children are ill, Collins suggests that they stay home.
“If there children are suffering from influenza-like illness symptoms, the biggest thing is to stay home and wait until they’ve been symptom free for two days before sending them back to school and that’s going to prevent the spread to other students,” she said.
While some parents said that they were not informed about the influenza outbreak, none of them expressed concern.
“I’m not worried,” said Samantha Dilworth, a parent of a student at the school.
While Collins admits that there is influenza within the community, she also reminds us that not all absenteeism is due to illness.
She added, “We do know there are viruses circulating in the community but there’s no unusual activity that our medical health officers are concerned about.”