WHAT IS THE FLU?
The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses. H1N1 (referred to as "swine flu" early on) is a new influenza causing illness in people. Because this virus is "new" it may cause a lot more people to get sick than during a regular flu season. The flu can be very serious, especially for younger children and children of any age who have one or more chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems, weakened immune systems and neurological & neuromuscular disorders).
HOW DOES FLU SPREAD?
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. If a person with the influenza virus coughs or sneezes into their hand they will leave those germs on any item they touch (remote controls, door knobs, desks). When someone else comes along and touches those items, they can become sick by touching their mouth or nose with their own hand.
HOW LONG CAN A SICK PERSON SPREAD THE FLU TO OTHERS?
The influenza virus can be spread 1 day before symptoms occur and up to 5-7 days after the illness.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE FLU?
Symptoms include: high fever (usually greater than 100.0), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, or vomiting and diarrhea. Children who are sick should stay home from school. Please do NOT send your child to school with a fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY CHILD AGAINST THE FLU?
- Flu shots
- Cover your nose & mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Frequent and proper hand washing
- Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Get plenty of rest
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY CHILD GETS SICK?
Warning! Do NOT give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to children or teenagers who have the flu. Check ingredient labels on over-the-counter cold and flu medications to see if they contain aspirin. In children 5 years and older, fevers and aches can be treated with Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nupren)
EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention are:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- 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
WHEN CAN MY CHILD GO BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER HAVING THE FLU?
Keep your children home from school for at least 24 hours after their vomiting, diarrhea and fever are gone. Their fever should be gone without the use of Tylenol or Motrin.