Local Doctor Recommends Schools Close to Ease the Spread of the Flu

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Buying stock in Kleenex may not be a bad idea, local doctors say the flu is hitting the Permian Basin hard. NewsWest 9 tracked down one pediatrician who thinks closing school for a few days may help contain the spread of the flu.

Just in the last week, Doctors at the Midland Pediatric Association have treated nearly 200 children who tested positive for the flu.

"I have mothers of my patients who are teachers and principals and they're telling me that 20-30 percent of the population is absent from Santa Rita and some of the other elementary schools. So it makes sense to at least consider stopping classes for a few days for it to die out," Dr. Clyde Watson said.

Stopping the spread of the flu can start small with hand washing and covering your mouth to cough, but Dr. Watson believes more drastic measures may also do the trick. He points to other school districts around the state like Huntsville ISD near Houston that have closed school to disinfect.

Most of the flu cases in his office are likely H1N1, but the silver lining is the virus isn't as bad as researchers predicted.

"It's certainly adversely affecting a very small percentage. Most of the kids are doing fine, they're having a fairly mild illness," he said.

Dr. Watson says parents can also minimize the spread of the flu by keeping their children out of school for at least seven days after they begin showing symptoms.

Unfortunately he says most kids are contagious for about 24 hours before they may appear sick.

NewsWest 9 was unable to contact officials with Midland Independent School District on Wednesday afternoon but officials have advocated that parents keep sick children out of school especially if those children are running a fever.