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The flu is closing an Idaho school for the week. Nearly 1/3 of its students were out sick Tuesday.

With nearly one-third of its students missing school Tuesday, one school in North Idaho is being forced to close its doors for a few days.

The Shoshone News-Press reported that Pinehurst Elementary School will not hold classes for the remainder of the week, as 140 of 430 students missed class on Jan. 9 because of illness.

The high number of absences is being attributed to “a more than normal increase in influenza cases sweeping through the school,” the News-Press reported. The Panhandle Health District suggests that a school close if 30 percent of its students are absent for three days in a row, according to the News-Press.

The school plans to reopen on Monday, Jan. 15.

At least 13 people have died due to influenza-related illnesses this winter, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. That is more than any of the past seven years in the same time frame.

Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho, which far exceeded the annual average of 23 deaths during each season from 2009-10 through 2015-16. The first reported influenza-related death last season occurred in December.

Besides getting the flu vaccine, everyday actions to stop the spread of influenza include:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people. Avoid people who appear to be sick.
  • Stay home from work or school when you’re sick so you don’t infect others.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have washed your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.

Every year, influenza contributes to an estimated 36,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations. For information about influenza, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or http://flu.idaho.gov.

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

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