Two children die from the flu in Wichita
At least two children have died from the flu in Wichita during the 2017-18 flu season. Susan Burchill, a spokeswoman with Wesley Healthcare confirmed that the hospital has had two pediatric deaths from the flu.
In Kansas, influenza has been the direct cause of death in 68 people and a contributing cause of death in 32 people, according to the Feb. 5 KDHE report. Pneumonia has been the direct cause of death in 174 people and a contributing cause of death in 566 people. Because influenza and pneumonia frequently occur together during the flu season, both illnesses are reported on KDHE death certificates. As of Feb. 5, influenza and pneumonia have been linked as a factor in 837 deaths in Kansas.
Barton County Health Department Director Shelly R. Schneider, BSN, RN, said any who hasn’t been vaccinated can still do so.
“We still have influenza vaccine as well as the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines,” she said. “It’s not too late to vaccinate. Do it so we can protect those that can’t protect themselves.”
There is no denying that there is a lot of illness going around.
“We are monitoring the level of sickness in the schools and are doing everything we can to control it,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 superintendent.
He said custodians have stepped up cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, which has likely helped keep a relatively low absence rate of 13 percent.
In order to keep those numbers as low as possible, he reminds parents to keep their children home until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. If an antibiotic is prescribed, the child may return to school once they have been on the medication for 24 hours.
Additionally, if a child is diagnosed with influenza, he or she is required to remain home from school for five days after diagnosis. Once five days has passed and the student has been fever free for 24 hours, he or she may return to school.
Custodians are continuing to use an electrostatic sprayer to use school wide or in specific classrooms that uses a hospital-grade disinfectant. The equipment was purchased last year.
“We are doing everything we can to keep students and staff healthy and in school,” Thexton said. “This is one more tool we can give our custodians to reduce the transmission of illness.”
The manufacturers of the equipment claim that the spray is effective on a broad spectrum of viruses and bacteria including MRSA and H1N1. The disinfectant used breaks down to simple salt and produces no harmful by-products.
It also claims that it provides 99.999 percent sanitation on food-contact surfaces with no rinse required.
“The sprayer is easy to use,” said Dirk Davis, custodians and maintenance director. “It only takes about five minutes to clean a classroom or three hours to do a whole school.”
Electrostatic disinfection adds an electric charge inside the liquid droplets as they are sprayed. This makes the droplet electrically stronger and allows it to envelop the area being sprayed to more effectively kill germs.
“There is no hazard to human health and the information provided says it works on broad spectrum of illnesses,” he said.