Flu outbreak shuts down Idaho school, 4 out of 10 kids stricken

The flu is hitting elementary school students in northern Idaho so badly, officials canceled classes for the rest of the week.

The Kellogg School district announced almost 40 percent of children at the Pinehurst Elementary School have been absent this week due to a surge in influenza cases.

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Superintendent Woody Woodford told Fox News that 170 out of the school’s 442 student body were out sick – that’s about 39 percent of their kids.

FILE: Oct. 17, 2012: A flu shot is administered in Jackson, Miss.

FILE: Oct. 17, 2012: A flu shot is administered in Jackson, Miss. (AP)

"When we saw two consecutive days of student absenteeism, almost 40 percent, then we thought the prudent thing to do was close the school and allow kids and families to get rest, seek medical attention without spreading the virus and do deep cleaning of our facilities," Woodford said.

When 30 percent of students are absent for three consecutive days, the Panhandle Health District recommends closing school.  Barring any changes, Pinehurst is expected to reopen its doors Monday, January 15.

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According to the Idaho health department, 13 people have died so far this season from influenza-related illness, a number officials say is particularly high for this time of year.

The first flu-related death in the 2016-2017 season in Idaho was in December. A total of 72 lives were lost last season in the state, largely exceeding the annual average of 23 deaths seen from 2009-2010 through 2015-2016.

Every year, influenza kills an estimated 36,000 people in the United States. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or http://flu.idaho.gov.