TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County School District has issued a warning to parents about the rapid spread of influenza.
"Your child's health and safety are a priority for Hillsborough County Public Schools. At this time, flu activity in Hillsborough County Public Schools does not appear to be higher than usual, without However, the Florida Department of Health has asked the district to send all families information about flu activity in the county, "the email said.  Tanya Arja, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County School District, tells News Channel 8 that there are approximately 6,200 students who have complained of the flu or cold symptoms in recent weeks.
The district believes that flu activity in local schools is "normal" and no major outbreaks were reported, Arja said.
The latest issues from the Florida Department of Health indicate several outbreaks in Hillsborough County, including one in a local nursing home where at least 25 patients and two staff members have the flu. Health department officials will not disclose exactly where the outbreaks are located, citing state law.
A letter from the Florida Department of Health to the Hillsborough County Schools e-mail to parents saying that the department is dealing with influenza activity levels increased significantly in recent weeks.
The letter also included the following information about the flu vaccine and how to cope if someone gets sick with the flu.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against flu and serious complications from the flu.
Vaccination is most crucial for children with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions. The flu vaccine is offered in many places, including pharmacies, clinics, employers and schools. Contact your health care provider, county health department or visit https://www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot to find a flu vaccine center near you.
The flu vaccine is safe.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the flu vaccine each year. Because babies younger than six months are too young to be vaccinated against influenza, it is important that family members (including
pregnant or lactating mothers) and other caregivers of these children get vaccinated to help protect them from the disease.  Keep sick children at home.
It is especially important that parents keep sick children at home to prevent the flu virus from spreading to other people. Additional steps to prevent the flu include getting away from people who are sick, covering sneezing or coughing with a tissue or elbow, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and washing your hands frequently.
What to do if your child gets the flu.
If your child becomes ill with a flu-like illness, contact your health care provider as soon as the symptoms begin. Symptoms of the flu often include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches or fatigue. It has been shown that antiviral drugs for influenza reduce the severity and duration of the disease, reduce the risk of complications from influenza and reduce the risk of death among hospitalized patients, particularly those who begin treatment early in their disease. Health care providers may prescribe antiviral treatment if appropriate. Treatment is most effective when it starts within 48 hours, so it is important to contact your health care provider as soon as you get sick, especially if your child has underlying health conditions.
The best way to keep you and your family safe and healthy during the flu season is:
- Get vaccinated;
- Keeping sick family members at home;
- Contact your health care provider if you or your child experiences flu-like symptoms; and
- Follow your doctor's instructions about the treatment.
WFLA is working to find out if there are outbreaks of flu in the Tampa Bay area.