PRATT — When flu-like symptoms hit Harold Windholz, 86, of Pratt, last week he knew it wasn’t going to be a good experience.

“It started in my chest; it just got real tight. I could hardly breathe,” Windholz said. “It knocked me out for two days.”

Windholz said he stayed home, didn’t go anywhere, propped himself up while sleeping and just tried to stay warm while drinking plenty of fluids. After two days he was no longer running a fever, and though he felt weak, he ventured out to get himself a newspaper.

“It was no fun,” he said. “I got a flu shot like I was supposed to, so maybe that helped me get over it quicker, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it.”

Students at USD 382 Pratt and USA 438 Skyline have also been affected by flu-like illness in Pratt over the past several weeks.

“We had more than 30 students missing school last week for illnesses,” said Pratt Superintendent Tony Helfrich. “We have had illness numbers running 2-4 times higher than normal for our middle school and elementary.”

On Monday, Helfrich said 44 students at Southwest Elementary were out with the flu.

“We do have teachers ill as well,” Helfrich said. “Getting subs is challenging at the moment.”

USD 382 school nurse Glenda Houdyshell said that students who came in to her office with complaints of head-ache or nausea were helped with their concerns and checked for fever.

“We have guidelines that they stay home for 5 days if diagnosed with influenza, or at least 24 hours after a fever has lifted,” she said. “A fever above 99.8 is automatic for sending a student home. But, we are going to look at all symptoms and review the student's history before making a decision with students not showing a fever.”

At Skyline USD 438, there were fewer cases of students missing school for flu-like illness, but there were some, said school nurse Heidi McKennon.

“Mostly we’ve just had a few kids complaining of headaches and fevers, those have been the main symptoms so far this year,” McKennon said. "Students running a fever of 100 degrees or higher need to remain home. The students and families have been real good about following those guidelines."

Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver, RN, said that while most people received their flu shots in October 2019, it was still important to get one to combat the continued outbreak.

“It takes two weeks for a flu shot to become effective, but flu season can go on until May,” Van Der Vyver said. “We have plenty of vaccines for the flu still available, and they are matching the strains better than in previous years.”

Van Der Vyver said those needing flu vaccinations could still be eligible for free shots of the 317 variety, as long as those supplies were still available for certain age groups. Walk-ins always welcome at the health department, 712 S. Main, Pratt.