The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says flu season is here in full force. Some area schools have seen that's true and they're scrambling to deal with it.
Parents around Horry County are getting calls from school administrators, reminding them to take precautions to keep their kids healthy. And at one private school in particular, the cold and flu season struck with a vengeance this week.
There are more empty desks than usual in Karen Lemon's fifth grade class at Conway Christian School.
Tuesday, close to 70 students - nearly a third of the whole school population - called in sick.
"Some have had just they said a virus, the cough, the cold, but fever," said principal Connie Smith.
So many kids were out, Smith said a Christmas program had to be postponed, a basketball game was canceled and a delivery of clothing for the needy was delayed.
Smith said only a few of the absent students were confirmed to have the flu. Most others have typical cold-like symptoms that happen every winter.
It's just earlier and far worse than usual this year.
"I've been here for almost 13 years and I never can remember having a time where we had this many out," Smith said.
Nurse practitioner Chris Maggi of the Conway Medical Center's Urgent Care facility in Socastee sees plenty of people with those same symptoms come through her office these days.
She suggests antibiotics, Tylenol or maybe a nasal wash for those patients.
And for people who want to avoid getting sick, her first piece of advice is an old standby: thorough hand washing.
"Make sure you wash your hands every chance you get. Avoid crowds, try not to touch your face as much as possible. Get your flu shot, for sure," Maggi said.
While it may be worse at some schools, Maggi says this kind of outbreak will happen just because it's that time of year.
"There may be a lot of reasons, but it's a seasonal thing. My best guess would be is, kids are back in school, the weather is changing," Maggi said.
At Conway Christian, they're keeping plenty of hand sanitizer in stock, wiping down door knobs and desktops every chance they get and just waiting for this to end.
"It's really thrown us for a loop," Smith said.
Smith says they expect to have most students back in class Thursday, so they think a Kindergarten Christmas program set for Friday will go on as scheduled.
For more advice on avoiding the flu, click here.
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