Flu cases in Mid-South rising, forcing school closures

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The flu has arrived in full-force in the Mid-South, and some schools have even decided to close their doors and disinfect.

"We've been looking for it, predicting it, trying to see when the flu would really strike," said Baptist Medical Group director Mark Castellaw.

Castellaw said flu cases in his office started to rise all of a sudden.

"Yesterday, I saw almost eight consecutive people—maybe 7—with the flu," he said. "The last few days, we have just been inundated with flu cases."

His office isn't the only place being overtaken by the pesky virus. It's causing problems in classrooms to the point that some schools have cancelled classes.

"Closing a school is inconvenient for everybody, but that limits exposure," Castellaw said.

So many students called out sick in McNairy County that the district dismissed for the rest of the week.

Castellaw said if the germs are constantly circulating, that isn't good for anyone in the building, so cancelling classes makes sense.

"It also gives time to the kids that are sick to get better, so they can go back to school," he said.

Haywood County schools closed Monday because they also had too many students and teachers out sick.

Tipton-Rosemark Academy also announced the school would be closed Thursday and Friday "due to illness."

Parents said at Riverwood in Cordova, dozens have been out sick possibly with the flu.

"Most of the teachers, along with the students, are out, and it's been more than 200 students out," the parent who wanted to remain anonymous said. "They should make us aware rather than try to be quiet about it. I want to know what is going on and what we should do."

The principal of Riverwood said there has been a higher number of absences the past week, but there's no way to verify if there are any school-wide health concerns.

The principal's response didn't go over well with the parent who reached out to WREG.

"We need to be able to protect ourselves and our kids," the parent said.

Prevention is the number-one key to stop the spread, Castellaw said.

Anyone who thinks they may be coming down with the flu should go to the doctor as soon as possible and take a nasal swab test, wash their hands, sanitize and if they are sick, stay home.

There's still some time to get the flu shot if you haven't, but time is running out. Experts said this year's flu shot is very effective on the strain in most flu patients.

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