Monday, June 29, 2009

Knowing the Facts Regarding H1N1 Virus

As your children are attending summer camps or you are starting to think about the beginning of the school year, H1N1 (formerly called the "Swine Flu") is a concern in all of our communities across the world. School age children have been disproportionately affected by this virus, so staying informed is critical for both teachers, school officials, and parents. The main thing to remember is that although a global pandemic has been identified, it is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

Stay informed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is maintaining an information portal on H1N1 flu. Also, check your state's Department of Public Health website for more localized information on the spread of the virus. Another informative website is the Centers for Disease Control's website which maintains the latest online information on the outbreak.

Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  4. Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  5. Follow public health advice regarding camp/school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  6. Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Not only are you worried about the spread of this virus, but chances are that depending on your child's age, she/he is aware that people all over the world are being affected.
  1. The American Psychological Association has a great article on managing your anxiety about H1N1.
  2. The National Association of School Nurses has released an article for parents on how to talk to your children about the flu. It includes tips on what is age-appropriate information to share and suggested points to emphasize.
Here are some more links for you to get more information about this virus as the summer progresses:

  1. What Parents Need to Know - from WebMD
  2. Centers for Disease Control
  3. Official H1N1 Information - from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services

Remember, it is never too early to teach your children good hygiene. Here is a simple 1-2-3 "Hands, Mouth and Table Game" to teach your children healthy habits that will help keep them well.

Have a safe and healthy summer!