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Flu symptoms prevent Phoenix-Sutherlin game

Incidents of flu symptoms continued to fluctuate this week in Jackson County schools, with flu-like illnesses at Phoenix High School canceling a football game with Sutherlin High School.

With more than 12 percent of the student body reporting flu symptoms Wednesday, Phoenix High had the highest rate of flu this week in Jackson County.

Prospect topped the list last week when more than a third of students were ill, prompting the school to close all this week.

The Southern Oregon Education Service District collects a count of flu incidents each week from public schools as a part of a regional, statewide and national effort to monitor the new influenza strain, the H1N1.

On Thursday, about five to six varsity football players were out sick, the same number were still recovering from a bout of illness and another five to six were having the first signs of flu symptoms, said Steve Goodkin, Phoenix High athletic director. There are only 26 players on the varsity team.

"It's not a cut-and-dried number," Goodkin said. "It ripples through."

Flu symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, congested or runny nose, body aches and diarrhea or vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first round of the new H1N1 vaccine is due in Oregon next week.

The football game was scheduled to be Sutherlin's homecoming event. The cancellation prompted the homecoming to be postponed for a week.

"It was mutually agreed to," Goodkin said. "Sutherlin hasn't experienced the flu yet. They didn't want our kids in the situation of playing a game that is very physical, and they are playing in the cold."

Sutherlin also didn't want to expose its students to the virus, if possible.

Phoenix High staff members have been encouraging students to remain at home when they're sick.

"We have had about 15 students a day in the office," Goodkin said. "If they have a fever, they are sent home."

"The problem with athletes is they feel so much responsibility to their teammates, they'll come back sooner than they should," he added. "We have sent players to the office during practice to have their temperatures taken, and they were sent home."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.