The child with swine flu is a nine-year-old at the Meigs Local Elementary School at Rutland. The youngster is ill at home where he is to remain until he has been free of a fever for 24 hours without the use of medication.
The Meigs County Health Department reported the case of swine flu to the media Thursday morning. Yesterday letters were sent out to all parents of students in the district along with an information sheet recommending how to avoid catching the flu and what actions need to be taken should their child or children become ill.
Meanwhile, Meigs Local Superintendent William Buckley has ordered that school personnel take special care in seeing that the school is kept clean. To further prevent illnesses in the school system, arrangements have been made for all school employees including teachers, support personnel and their spouses, to be given the regular swine flu vaccine Monday as a preventive measure.
The Ohio Department of Health has announced that since there is one confirmed case of swine flu, all cases of flu, regular or swine, in the school will be considered and treated as swine flu.
Hand washing which has been listed by the Ohio Department of Health as a main deterrent in stopping the spread of the swine flu, is being stressed in the schools of the district. Senior students in the nurse assistant class at Meigs High School will be going into the elementary school to demonstrate the proper technique of hand washing.
“At this stage, we know that it’s not a matter of if, but when, the flu spreads to other students. The big thing now is use common sense — don’t panic, just treat it like any other flu,” advised Buckley.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sanja Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, has created a parents’ guide for dealing with swine flu which is being distributed by the Ohio Department of Health. Parents of students in the Meigs Local School District are being sent a copy of the guide. Points of the advice to parents are as follows:
• As things stand now the vast majority of children who develop flulike symptoms this fall will have a few miserable days, and nothing more. Those days are best spent at home — not in the ER or a doctor’s office.
• If you are worried, you should call your pediatrician’s office first. Don’t take your child in without calling. Two reasons. Your child may not have HINI but could become exposed by being around sick children. And, after several hours of waiting, you are still likely to be told the basics — plenty of fluids, rest, and dose appropriate acetaminophen for a fever. After all, it is still the flu we are talking about.
• One doctor told me a way to think about things that was helpful. He said “remove the term HINI from the equation.” If your child had regular flu, would you take him to the hospital? If the answer is no, then don’t take him/her to the hospital now.
• Yes, hearing that between 30,000 and 8,000 could die from HINI is scary, but keep in mind, around 40,000 people die from the regular or seasonal flu every year. The numbers may not be that much different, yet there is not panic about the regular flu. As things look now, HINI is causing only mild to moderate illness, not the widespread deaths people are worried about.
• There are some children who should be seen by their doctor. Call your doctor if:
A baby younger than 12 weeks has a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
A child, older than 12 weeks, has a fever for three days.
A child’s fever returns after a 12-24 hour time period.
A child is not passing urine or making tears for more than six hours.
A child does not smile or show interest in playing for several hours.
• Dial 911 if:
A child cannot speak while trying to breathe
Has a blue or dark purple color in the nail beds, lips or gums
Is not responding to you because he is too tired or weak.
One point that was reinforced to me over an over again by the pediatrician is the best place for a sick child is at home. With regard to school, after 24 fever-free hours without the aid of medications, he or she can go back.