Monday, August 31, 2009
A Flu Update - What you Need to Know about H1N1 (aka the Swine Flu)
We have received many questions about the Novel H1N1 flu virus (formerly known as the Swine flu). The H1N1 flu continued to spread over the summer in camps and schools. In the southern hemisphere, which is in the middle of its flu season, it emerged as the most common cause of the flu.
H1N1 symptoms are very similar to seasonal flu symptoms and may include fever over 100°, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. It is expected that most people will recover from H1N1 without needing medical care.
The spread of Novel H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or by contact with contaminated objects, such as occurs when a well person touches something that is contaminated by flu droplets and the contaminated hands are brought to the mouth, nose or eyes. (Flu virus can survive minutes to hours on surfaces).
Most cases of H1N1 have been mild, but there have been hospitalizations and deaths-just as there are every year with seasonal flu. To minimize the impact of this virus in our community, it will be important to heed the advice offered by public health experts.
The DeKalb County School System is working closely with the DeKalb County Board of Health (DBOH) and is receiving on-going guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). The school district modifies its procedures in response to revised guidance from these agencies.
What can you do to prevent the flu?
The key is to stringently follow sanitary measures to reduce the spread of germs.
#1. All persons are encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Hand sanitizers are currently being placed in DeKalb County schools and other district facilities. The Lakeside PTSA is in the process of purchasing hand sanitizers that can be placed in every classroom at Lakeside. Encourage your child to wash their hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing, and to make use of hand sanitizers.
#2. Cover your cough/sneeze by using a tissue (and properly discard) or your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
#3. Do not share personal items such as drinks.
#4. Parents/Guardians should monitor your child for flu-like symptoms. Students, faculty and staff who appear to have a flu-like illness upon arrival at school or during the day will be isolated in a room away from others. The parents of students will immediately be called. Persons who appear to have a flu-like illness will be sent home.
#5. Get vaccinated. The CDC, DCH and DBOH encourage citizens in high-risk groups, such as school-age children to get vaccinated against seasonal and Novel flu viruses. The vaccine for H1N1 is anticipated to be available in mid-October.
Those with flu-like illness should follow the following exclusion period recommendations:
#1. Stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, without use of fever-reducing medicines and regardless of whether or not they are using antiviral drugs.
#2. Those who are sick should stay in the home during this period, except to seek necessary medical care, and should avoid contact with others.
How can you help?
#1. Keep your child home if he/she has flu-like symptoms and follow the guidelines provided above.
#2. Support prevention efforts by educating your child about proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Discuss with your child ways of staying healthy and the importance of staying home when they are sick.
#3. Send in hand sanitizer and Kleenex for your child's classrooms. We encourage our Lakeside families to assist us in our distribution of hand sanitizers by providing additional bottles to your child's teachers.
If your child is home with the flu, remember that they may be too ill to study while they are recovering. Contact your child's teachers to explain why your child is home and to make arrangements to keep up with assignments.
Remember that there are many illnesses with symptoms similar to those of influenza. For example, a common cold or allergies can cause nasal symptoms and cough. If you have questions about your symptoms or feel you need to be seen because of symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
Up-to-date information on H1N1 can be found on the CDC website.
For more information about the swine flu from the DeKalb School System, please click here.
Many thanks to the Lakeside PTSA for this informative update!