Nearly 100 students out with flu at Saint Patrick High School

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The nationwide flu epidemic hit one Chicago high school particularly hard. Close to 100 students were out sick at Saint Patrick high School on the city's northwest side. (WLS)

The nationwide flu epidemic hit one Chicago high school particularly hard. Close to 100 students were out sick at Saint Patrick high School on the city's northwest side.

"I would say the flu is here. It's hit everybody, so I would say it's high for us at Saint Patrick," said Joe Schmidt, president of Saint Patrick High School.

Schmidt said at least 87 students were out sick Monday, nearly one in seven at the all-boys Catholic high school.

Students like freshman Sean Forrester took steps not to get sick.

"Washing my hands more often, even if I'm not eating anything," he said. "Washing it every hour or something like that."

Tissues and hand sanitizer are now in every classroom, and though the school is not undergoing additional cleaning, it is already cleaned every day.

At Tuesday's scheduled monthly mass, the handshake of peace will be replaced with a message about staying healthy, another concession to the contagious virus.

"The message is if you're not feeling well, tell your parents about it in the morning so you make sure they keep you home. We don't want you in school if you're sick, spreading your germs. So that's our message," Schmidt said.

While the number of absences Monday was striking, Saint Patrick's officials said the flu cases this year are actually on par with years past. And while it has affected many students, the teachers have largely remained healthy.

The flu has become a nationwide epidemic. There are so many cases, Walgreens and CVS have reported issues distributing anti-viral drug Tamiflu. Hospitals have been forced to set up special areas, and child flu deaths are up with at least 37 so far compared to this time last year.

There's also concern for the Super Bowl, where a million people are expected to attend the festivities. Hands-on exhibits and equipment have been wiped down in hopes of preventing the virus's spread.

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healthfluflu seasonstudentsChicagoBelmont Cragin
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