School district offers swine flu guidance
District officials are asking parents to keep their sick kids at home for a few days in an effort to help stop the spread of swine flu.
The district is asking parents to keep sick children at home and to promptly pick up children from school if they are discovered to be sick while there. They’re asking that children be fever-free for 24 hours before they are returned to school.
In order to keep the illness at bay, the district is asking parents to encourage their kids to cough and sneeze into tissues or the crook of their arm, to wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based cleaners and to avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths and also sharing food or drink with others. They are also reminding parents to dress their kids appropriately for the weather and to make sure they get enough rest, food and drink.
The flu is spread when virus particles are sneezed or coughed into the air (you won’t get it from eating pork). Symptoms, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. The swine flu can only be confirmed with a diagnostic test, so if you or your child have the flu, call your doctor.
Like other influenzas, the swine flu can vary in severity from mild to severe. Warning signs that immediate medical attention is required in children include fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough or fever with a rash.
In adults, trouble signs include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion or severe or persistent vomiting.
People who have the disease can be contagious a day before and up to seven days after they show symptoms of the illness, and children can be contagious for longer than adults, according to this handy CDC fact sheet.
Health officials have reportedly confirmed two cases of the flu in Marin County, the first in the Bay Area, and additional potential Bay Area cases are being investigated. Alameda County health officials have asked the state to test for nine suspected cases of the virus.
The CDC listed 64 confirmed cases of the disease across five states on its website Tuesday night, 10 of them in California, though officials there stressed that their numbers are a moving target: California’s Department of Public Health listed 11 cases on its website, though it doesn’t include the Marin cases, a 60-year-old grandmother and her 20-month-old granddaughter who recently traveled to Mexico with family, according to CBS5. The baby has recovered and the grandmother is experiencing mild flu symptoms, the television station reported.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.
Federal officials have released 11 million doses of antiviral drugs to the affected states, and they have also issued a travel advisory asking people to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico.
CDC officials told reporters last week that the swine flu is unusual because it has components of four different flu bugs, including swine, human and two strains of avian flu – and because it is spread by human-to-human contact, instead of human-to-animal contact.
The flu originated in Mexico, where it is believed to have killed 149 people. The earliest U.S. case was discovered on March 28.