Flu season still going strong, schools around the state feeling the effects

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - When you think of the flu, do you assume the chances of getting it ends once winter is over? According to health officials, you'd be wrong.

Schools throughout the state are dealing with students and staff getting sick from the virus, like Hancock County in the northern panhandle which closed all schools on Friday because of the flu, according to the Associated Press.

Donna Riffle, nurse director at the Harrison County Health Department, says flu season can run well into May.

"The flu peak is December through February and March," said Riffle. "But sometimes it can go as late as in May. And throughout that time and later into the year there are always other viruses that appear to be similar to the flu."

Riffle says the flu is spread through coughing, sneezing, talking through the air, and the biggest factor of all for students: touch.

"Especially with children, they're touching desks, pencils, other children. They're holidng hands and that kind of thing. So they can get the flu that way."

Easy ways to prevent the spread of the flu are making sure you're getting a flu shot, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and washing your hands regularly.

Most importantly, Riffle says if you have a fever you should not leave your house. A fever is the number one sign of the flu.

"Stay home 24 hours after a fever breaks, after you don't have a fever any more, even after not being on medicine."

Officials say the best time to get your flu shot is in October, but they are available year round as a precaution.