MARKED TREE, Ark. — All eyes are on the coronavirus nationally, but there’s another health threat still hitting the Mid-South pretty hard.
Schools in Marked Tree are closed until Tuesday, as an alarming number of students and faculty deal with influenza.
“I have five children, and I had one that had the flu, so I think I did good,” parent Traci Calhoun said.
Calhoun’s children attend school in the Marked Tree School District, which is closed Friday and Monday as a flu outbreak hits students and teachers hard.
Calhoun said one of her children came down with the bug, and she’s glad the schools are closed.
“He was running a fever, and he was sick, and he didn’t want to eat for about a week, but we got him better,” she said.
Marked Tree Schools’ superintendent said staff are staging an all-out cleaning campaign to stop the flu from spreading.
“Every surface that a child touches,” superintendent Matt Wright said. “We’re in our classrooms, our hallways, our bathrooms, our cafeteria. We’re getting on our buses. I mean literally every space that a child touches is going to be cleaned.”
They’re urging parents to disinfect backpacks and lunchboxes and encouraging youngsters to wash their hands frequently and to avoid high-population areas.
At Southern Pharmacy in Marked Tree, the flu outbreak has kept pharmacist Randy Shimabery busier than usual.
He said he’s seeing more customers with familiar flu symptoms.
“When you feel like your body aches all over, it’s generally the flu,” Shimabery said.
He said there is a number of products to treat flu symptoms, but he recommends Tamaflu.
“The thing about Tamaflu is that it’s very effective if you get it at the first symptoms of the flu,” Shimabery said. “If you’ve waited five days to go to the doctor, it’s not as effective.”
A chemical fog designed to help fight the flu will be sprayed in the schools Friday afternoon and Monday and Tuesday morning before the schools open.