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‘Gunk’ makes its way through the Parkland

PARK HILLS — What is being called the “gunk” by several area residents is making its way through the Parkland. The flu-like symptoms known as the “gunk” forced the Kingston K-14 School District to close its doors on Feb. 15-16 and has also caused several area residents to have to stay home from work.

“We are seeing our confirmed cases of the flu climb each week,” said Liz Maserang, Communicable Disease Coordinator with the St. Francois County Health Center. “We noticed the increase to start on Feb. 7. Once these symptoms get into a community they are pretty easy to transmit and spread quickly.”

Maserang said despite the jump in flu cases the number of confirmed cases is still down from last year.

“While it is less likely that someone will get the flu if they have had the flu shot or the FluMist, they are not 100 percent,” Maserang said. “There is a small chance that they could get a different strain of the flu than what is in the vaccine.”

Maserang said there are ways to distinguish between the flu and cold like symptoms.

“If someone has the flu they are going to have a sudden onset of a fever,” Maserang said. “The range of the fever is going to be 101 degrees on up. They are also going to have a sore throat, muscle aches, a runny nose, cough and a headache. Vomiting and diarrhea can also sometimes be associated with the flu.”

Maserang said if someone is experiencing these symptoms the best thing they can do is stay home.

“This stuff spreads very easily,” Maserang said. “There is the mindset that people don’t want to miss work so they should work through it, but they need to help keep this stuff from transmitting to other people. They need to call their doctor, get lots of rests and make sure they drink plenty of fluids.”

Maserang said it is also a good idea to use good hand washing habits during the flu season.

“As far as taking something for the flu, people can take a fever reducer and pain medication,” Maserang said. “Amantadine can also be prescribed by a doctor which decreases the severity of the flu. If it is given quickly enough from the onset it can actually prevent the flu.”

Maserang said the incubation period of the flu is one to three days while someone is contagious for typically three to seven days.

Officials with the Kingston School District said the reason the district shut down on Feb. 15-16 was due to a 75 percent attendance rate on Feb. 14. In addition to students calling out with the flu, officials said several staff members were also calling out with the flu.

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