SCHOOLS in one US state have been forced to close their doors to pupils after being hit by a 'tripledemic' of flu, Covid and Strep A, it has emerged.
Swathes of students in the Kentucky school district have been struck down less than two weeks after classes started up, with a fifth of students calling in sick.
It comes as UK schools prepare to welcome students back in less than two weeks time, prompting fears that the new term could see a surge in bugs.
Recent statistics from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggest that Covid infections in England have doubled in the last month, as two new, highly-mutated variants emerge.
However, there's no evidence to suggest that the latest 'Pirola' and 'Eris' strains are more dangerous than other Omicron variants.
What's more, the extensive vaccine roll out both in the US and UK means that most people have a good level of immunity to the bug.
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The Lee County School District, which serves just under 900 students, began classes on August 9.
But superintendent Earl Ray Schuler told NBC News that by the end of that week, about a fifth of the pupils had signed off sick.
When attendance failed to improve the following week – with both students and teachers succumbing to to Covid, step A, the flu or other illnesses – the school district cancelled classes until Wednesday and held them online for the next two days.
The district houses an elementary school and a combined middle and high school.
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Outbreaks were evenly split between the two, with equal numbers of students calling in sick across both, according to Mr Schuler.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Covid data tracker, cases of the virus seem to rising in the US this month, with hospitalisations and deaths both up by about 21 per cent.
It comes after the new Pirola variant – known scientifically as BA.2.86 – was spotted in the US, as well as the UK, Denmark and Israel.
As for the flu, Dr Danny Benjamin – a professor of paediatrics at Duke University – told NBC it was early for large flu outbreaks to be popping up.
He predicted that they would not begin in earnest in schools until early October.
He added that US school districts should be primed to experience outbreaks of Covid and other non-flu viruses.
The CDC doesn't track strep A at a national level.
The UK was hit by a wave of strep A cases last winter. At least 426 people – including 48 children – have died from Strep A in the last eight months, UKHSA data suggests.
As for Covid, some 875 Brits had the bug on August 11, according to the most recent Government statistics, up from 449 on July 11.
And hospital admissions also rose for the sixth week in a row, with 2,171 people admitted with the bug on the week ending August 11.
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Flu season tends to ramp up in the UK in October, normally lasting until March.
Vaccines to protect against it are offered to over-65s, people in clinical risk groups and pregnant women in England, with Governement also expanding coverage to 11- to 16-year-olds this year.
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