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San Diego area high schools deal with outbreak of respiratory illness

Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 13, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Another local high school is reporting an uptick in student absences due to a respiratory outbreak.

Patrick Henry High School has seen about 1,100 absences since Monday out of 2,600 students. And at Del Norte High School, about 884 students have been absent since Monday out of 2,517 total students.

"We don't really know why those two schools are affected specifically and they're so geographically separated I think this is more of a general phenomenon of an increase in respiratory viruses and flu this winter," explained San Diego County deputy public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.

Dr. Kaiser says some students have already tested positive for Influenza A, which is typically the harder hitting of the flu types annually.

So far, he says the county has already seen more than 1,000 total cases of flu in October, which is a quarter of last season's entire cases.

"The most important thing for folks to take away from this is that the flu shots are widely available and if you've been thinking of getting one now is the time to do it," said Dr. Kaiser.

A recommendation echoed by Dr. Mark Shalauta of Scripps Health.

He says a decrease in things like social distancing and mask-wearing means more of a chance that any illness will be more easily spread.

And it's not just high school kids being affected. The doctor says he's seeing kids of all ages getting sick right now with things other than Covid and says part of the reason is lack of immunity.

"Older adults have been exposed to many things over the years and the younger you are the less exposed you've been," said Dr. Shalauta.

He and other health professionals predict this may be just a hint of what's to come in the next few months.

"I think it's gonna be potentially a pretty bad winter because of all these factors we've been talking about and people have not been exposed to things."