Pontotoc County schools not seeing widespread illness numbers

ADA, Okla. (KXII) - Several Texoma school districts have seen large numbers of absences in the last two weeks, with some even shutting down due to sickness.

Ada City Schools seem to be avoiding the illness.

"I think we're fortunate," Superintendent Mike Anderson said. "It appears that all around us, especially to the south of us, they're not quite so lucky."

Anderson said he checks school attendance of more than 2500 students every day, seeing no signs of widespread sickness.

Total absences in the last week amount to only seven percent, just two percent above normal.

Anderson said the school has been proactive going into flu season, sending home prevention tips and using recently purchased spray guns to disinfect buildings and school buses.

The district also had a policy where students had to wait 24 hours after their fever breaks before returning to school.

With input from the school nurse, Anderson decided to expand that time frame to 48 hours.

This change gives students an extra day to recover, making them less likely to share their sickness.

"I'm in full agreement," Anderson said. "If it will keep an outbreak from happening in our school system, then, hopefully, we can do that."

Anderson said the story is similar at other schools across Pontotoc County, but he knows the flu can show up at any time.

"The thing that worries me is that this could change tomorrow," Anderson said. "If it does, we'll have to deal with it."

Dr. Joshua Priddle at Mercy in Ada said he's seen an uptick in cases over the last week.

"I'm seeing several cases of flu-like illness," Priddle said. "I have not seen a lot flu-positive flu-like illness where we're seeing the actual results being positive."

Priddle speculates the low numbers in Pontotoc County could be attributed to its distance from major highways like Interstate 35 or Highway 69.

In a press release earlier this week, Lisa Brown, Infection Control Coordinator for Mercy Ada, said the hospital has seen an increase in positive influenza tests through its emergency department and outpatient clinic in the past several weeks.

However, the hospital is not putting any visitor restrictions in place. It does discourage people from visiting patients if they are feeling ill, have the flu or have any flu-like symptoms.

Priddle said folks need to practice good hygiene and isolate themselves if they do get sick.

"If each individual does their job, then we'll avoid that outbreak," Anderson said.

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