Temperatures on the Rise – Cold Weather not to Blame

By Tyler Funk –

All time high temperatures in the  Susquehanna Valley during the first week of February. Kids wearing shorts to school, driving around with the car top down and pulling out their motorcycles.

Is this supposed to be winter?

You know winter, frosty temperatures, people sick and inches of snow. Well this year students and faculty are seeing the exact opposite. The temperatures are on the rise, and people are actually in a good mood.

Cases of the flu peak in December and January when weather is usually the most cold. Graphic courtesy of Scientific American

So does that mean there are less colds and fevers with the higher warmer conditions?  Not in Penn Manor High School, according to health officials.

” About the same, certainly not better,” said school nurse Anne Butterfield about the amount of illness she has seen in students this winter compared to previous ones.

“The reason illness will go up in winter is because of people are together longer inside buildings,” she explained.  “That’s how viruses and bacteria can be spread by coughing and sneezing on books, hands etc.”

For a student to go home at Penn Manor High School, they must each get evaluated by the school nurse, said Butterfield.

She said there is not a hard or fast rule of sending a student home.

“An assesment is done of each patient and variables are considered when deciding to send a student home,”  Butterfield explained.

According to Scientific American flu symptoms can include fever, sore throat, cough, and joint and muscle aches. The flu epidemic reaches a peak between December and January when winter is at its worst, but there is no direct link to cold weather. Only that people are crowded together in winter, according to researchers there.

High School nurse Anne Butterfield checks students for flu symptoms. Photo by Simon Zimmerman

Up to 20,000 people die in the United States every year due to the flu according to Scientific American, but many of those are complications from the flu such as Bronchitis and pneumonia.

One Penn Manor student is well aware of illnesses this time of year.

Three weeks ago Nicole Harnish a senior, came down with typical flu like symptoms.

“I probably got sick from work because a bunch of people were sick,” she said.

But Harnish came to school anyway. That doesn’t mean she enjoyed the time being ill.

“It sucks,” said Harnish. ” You can’t pay attention and you just want to be in bed and some teachers don’t have tissues on their desk. You have to ask for them.”