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Illness Threatening Idaho From East And West

Darren Hester

An epidemic of what’s been described as a "flu-like" illness has brought schools to a screeching halt in eastern Idaho. Four districts in the east have shut down in recent days due to sickness.

Classes are cancelled in the Shelley and Jefferson School Districts in the east. While the schools are shuttered, officials say a thorough cleaning is planned to disinfect classrooms and stave off another round of illness.

The Firth District also closed down as did campuses in the Fremont District. According to the Idaho State Journal, a range of conditions are afflicting students and faculty at Fremont schools. Respiratory infections, flu and strep throat have all been reported.

The closures at the district level come as a number of individual schools in east Idaho have shut for days while large portions of their student bodies convalesce.

Eastern Idaho Public Health Surveillance Epidemiologist Mike Taylor says student hygiene isn’t always ideal. He says coughs and sneezes aren’t always covered, handwashing is sporadic and germs are easily spread by way of keyboards and other electronics.

The community health director for Southeastern Idaho Public Health says her region, which includes Bannock County, Power County and Butte County among others hasn’t been hit by the outbreak. However, she says it’s only a matter of time.

As the flu epidemic continues in the east, residents in both Oregon and Washington are dealing with a measles outbreak that Idaho officials say they’re closely monitoring.

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