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Sunday, Feb 18, 2018
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Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus.

At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their schools doesn’t seem higher than usual, but that they were was asked to send families information by the health department.

"We know parents may need this information, but it’s not a school issue. It’s a community issue," said Hillsborough district spokeswoman Tanya Arja. "We sent the letter out as partners with the health department."

Arja said there are no more students out sick right now than normal this time of year.

She said school nurses estimate about 3 percent of the district’s 200,000 students have come to them with cold or flu-like symptoms.

RELATED: Defending against this season’s deadly flu: 5 things to know

Pasco County schools say they, too, haven’t had any increase in absenteeism, but were preparing a newsletter Friday morning to send out to parents.

The Hillsborough County letter includes the follow bullet points to ensure children are as protected as possible from the illness:

• Get vaccinated

• Keep sick family members home

• Contact your doctor if you or your child is experiencing flu-like symptoms

• Follow your doctor’s treatment plan

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches or fatigue.

READ MORE: Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas County schools also prepared information to sent out to its community on Friday.

In their letter, the district reminded parents any child with a high temperature must stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the aid of medicine.

Children with underlying health issues such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions are the most susceptible to the flu, according to the health department, and it is crucial for them to get vaccinated.

The flu is contagious respiratory illness and can cause mild to severe symptoms. It can result in hospitalization or death.

Contact Sara DiNatale. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers