As parents prepare for the start of the school year joyous thoughts of our children making new friends and challenging their little minds (not to mention the opportunity to actually read an entire article from the newspaper without interruption) dance in our heads. Sadly, this year another, less joyful idea dancing in our heads: Swine Flu.
The H1N1 flu is a pandemic, it has spread throughout the world. Sadly, some of its victims have been hospitalized and a few have even died from this strain of influenza. “Luckily, however, the majority of people who do get swine flu suffer with fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and respiratory congestion for just a few days,” says Dr. Nina L. Shapiro, Associate Professor UCLA School of Medicine and Director of Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat Care at UCLA Medical Center “However, it is very contagious, and can spread rapidly, especially in close, intimate settings such as the classroom,” adds Shapiro.
So, make sure that your children wash their hands often, cover their coughs and sneezes they should cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm, not their hands which will invariably come into contact with their classmates which remain the tried but true. And, be prepared to keep them home from school even during those precious first few weeks of classes, “Don’t send them to school with a fever, cough, or green/yellow runny nose,” advises Shapiro. Yes, you may have to wait yet again to read the paper but you and your child will be better off in the long run if they miss just a few days of school rather than risk having your child get really ill and possibly miss weeks of school. Besides, says Shapiro, “You shouldn’t let your kid be Typhoid Tommy.”
For more information on the specifics of the disease, its manifestations, treatments and the in-the-works vaccine can be found at the Center for Disease Control site, H1N1 section: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu