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Student athletes at greater risk for flu

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 17 2013 07:06:06 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Tyler Patterson just got over an illness.

"I went home.  I had thrown up at school and just felt like total crud all week," explains Patterson.

He's not the only one.  Belgrade School Nurse Connie Bengston says they see a lot of kids who come to school feeling fine and are subsequently hit with flu-like symptoms.

"We end of having to call a lot of parents so, it's always good if we can reach a parent if we need to have them come and pick up their child," says Bengston.

She tells me quite a few students and staff are currently out with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

"We've got a few cases confirmed at pretty much every school and we've got others that, both students and staff, that have symptoms that certainly sound like they could be influenza," says Bengston.

During finals week, it makes getting sick that much worse.

"Pretty crappy and overwhelming.  You just got done being sick and then now you get to take a test," says Belgrade High student Makayla Dickson.

Nurses tell me students who play sports are more susceptible to contracting illness.  That's because they're in close contact with one another and are often handling the same object without washing their hands.

"I wasn't sure if I'd be back for these games or not but I got some medicine and we're good to go," says Belgrade student athlete Jared Bryant.

He's one of four varsity boys basketball players who've been out.  That's not counting their manager.

"It's hard not being there to practice and they got to watch the film on the last game against Three Forks so, I missed out on that.  So, I'm not sure what we needed to improve on from that," says Bryant.

He says it's not just a matter of missing out on a practice or two.  Bryant says, when players are out sick it has an impact on the whole team and possibly their record.

"It makes it hard to practice and get better while they're gone because you take them out of the practice and then, if they're on the starting line up, it's hard to throw them back in there after not being there during practice and know what's going on and what they worked on," says Bryant.

It's just one reason why Bengston says it's important for student athletes to take extra precautions, like keeping their immune system up by eating well and getting enough rest, washing their hands often and covering coughs and sneezes.