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Widespread flu forces entire Virginia county to cancel school

PATRICK COUNTY, Va. -- A nasty flu bug has sickened enough students in Patrick County, Virginia, that the public schools there will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Superintendent William Sroufe told WDBJ schools in the southwest Virginia county will use those days to thoroughly sanitize buildings before reopening on Monday.

More than 2,600 student attend Patrick County Public Schools. The school system consists of four elementary schools with grades K-7, one primary school with grades K-3, one upper elementary school with grades 4-7 and one high school with grades 8-12.

"Currently influenza is widespread in Virginia," a Virginia Health Department spokesperson said.

The department offered the following tips to schools in an effort to decrease the spread of flu:

Use tissues to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

Dispose of the tissue immediately in a trash can.

If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

Remember to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Rinse and dry hands with a disposable towel, and use the towel to turn off the faucet.

When hands are not visibly dirty, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol may be used.

Recommend parents keep children with respiratory symptoms and fever out of school until they have, at a minimum, been fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medicines) for a full 24 hours.