Flu season is always a difficult time of the year for schools due to the increase in illness. Viruses spread easily among children in schools, and families with school-age children have more infections than others, with an average of one-third of these family members infected each year. We have heard a lot of discussion about the new strain of viral flu called "swine flu" or H1N1. This new strain of flu is believed to be responsible for widespread but basically mild disease. This season, health officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health have developed a combination vaccine covering multiple strains of the influenza virus, including H1N1.
You can help prevent the spread of flu or help your child get better if he/she does get sick by following a few simple steps:
Obtain a flu vaccine every year
Remind your child to cover his/her nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and dispose of the tissue immediately
Have your child was his/her hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and shared items at least once a day
Ensure that bathrooms are stocked with soap, hand towels and tissues
Teach your child not to touch his/her mouth, nose and eyes
If your child is sick and has a fever, keep him/her home to prevent the spread of illness to others
If you are concerned about your child's flu symptoms, call your health care provider early. Call your provider immediately if your child has a chronic disease.
Common symptoms of flu include:
muscle and body aches
children may also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
Some children might benefit from an antiviral medication, which can be prescribed by a health care provider and can help lessen the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. To be effective, antiviral medication must be taken with the first 48-72 hours after flu symptoms begin. Students that are identified with influenza symptoms at school will be immediately sent home. Students must remain at home for at least 24 hours after the last episode of fever without the aid of fever reducing medications. In most cases, students will be asked to recover at home for at least a period of 3-5 days.
If you would like additional information about seasonal influenza and the latest information on the H1N1 pandemic, click on the following link from the Centers for Disease Control.