FLU 2017

We are entering the time of year when we see influenza {flu) and other respiratory viruses at school. We want to let you know what steps we are taking to keep our school community healthy and how you can help.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications.

 

Flu and colds symptoms can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart, but consider this:

 

FLU

COMMON COLD

How it begins

Sudden

Gradual

Cough

Severe

Mild to moderate

Muscles

Achy

None to mild aches

Stuffy, runny nose

Sometimes

Common

Tiredness

Severe

Mild

Fever

None to high grade

None to low grade

Complications

Bronchitis/Pneumonia

Earache/Sinus infection

 

How Flu Spreads

 

Person to Person

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

The Flu Is Contagious

Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Influenza is dangerous for children

Influenza (“the flu”) is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal influenza; thousands of children are hospitalized and some children die from flu.

  • Children commonly need medical care because of influenza, especially before they turn 5 years old.
  • Children younger than 5 years and especially those younger than 2 years are at high risk of serious influenza complications.
  • Children of any age with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system also are at high risk of serious flu complications.
  • Flu seasons vary in severity:
    • CDC estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years ranged from 7,000 to 26,000 in the United States.
    • While relatively rare, some children die from flu each year. Since 2004-2005, flu-related deaths in children reported to CDC during regular flu seasons have ranged from 37 deaths to 171 deaths.
    •  The single best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated each year.The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines (called “trivalent” vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same three viruses as the trivalent vaccine and an additional B virus. 

We encourage you to:

  • Get FLU shots for the entire family
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available
  • Cover coughs with a disposable tissue or cough into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with sick individuals
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils
  • Stay home when ill
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your healthcare provider prescribes them

You can help us maintain a healthy school environment:

  • Make sure your children receive all recommended immunizations, including an annual flu vaccine
  • Reinforce all of the above preventive behaviors practiced at school
  • Make sure children get plenty of exercise, sleep, and healthy food
  • Keep sick children home, especially if they have a fever above 100.40 F, diarrhea, vomiting, or a severe cough.

Important points:

  • Notify your child's healthcare provider if your child develops difficulty breathing or a new onset of wheezing
  • If your child has asthma, please make sure the nurse has a copy of your child's Asthma Action Plan.

If you have any questions, please contact your school nurse.  Together we can have a healthy school year.

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