A Whitley County High School student is reportedly very ill from complications associated with the flu. The high school age child is listed in critical, but stable condition at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
The girl, 14-year-old Cierra Jones, a freshman at the school, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. School officials say they have been in close contact with the family. The flu worsened into pneumonia and Jones has been on a ventilator recovering, according to family members.
Last month, Whitley County Superintendent Lonnie Anderson and Gail Timperio, Public Health Director at the Whitley County Health Department, via a recorded message to parents through the district’s One Call system, notified parents that the district had confimed flu cases.
In an interview, Timperio said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Public Health were advising health departments to consider any positive flu screenings as H1N1, noting that the health department is focusing on the fact that it knows there are H1N1 cases in Whitley County and that it is circulating, just like any flu.
Timperio noted the flu had been confirmed in all school districts in the area, not just Whitley County.
Whitley County Schools are the first in the state to cancel school district wide.
Superintendent Lonnie Anderson said the decision to cancel school for the rest of the week in the district was made after talking with the state epidemiologist and local health officials. Anderson said one local pharmacy Wednesday had nearly depleted their stock of Tamiflu, which Anderson says is specifically given for flu. Anderson said inquiries had been made to local doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms as well.
Other sources indicated that over 150 people had been seen in a 24-hour period in an area hospital emergency room.
Regarding tonight’s football game with Clay County, Anderson said the game will be played. Anderson said since it is away and is an outdoor event, health officials said it should be ok to play. Anderson said an event indoor would have been given different consideration.
Anderson said he is hoping that school can be resumed on Monday. Fall break will follow the week after, which school officials hope will help in preventing the spread of illness and take them up to the timeline of when the H1N1 vaccine will be available.