The Schuylerville Central School District is starting to see an increase in the number of Schuylerville students absent with apparent “influenza-like illness,” (ILI) a phrase used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to describe a person who shows symptoms of any type of flu. The uptick in absent students is expected, as the CDC reported in December that about half of the country was experiencing high flu activity. With this in mind, Schuylerville Central School District is providing a guide to parents, students and community members regarding the flu. Click here for guidelines on when to keep your child home from school.
What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different influenza viruses that are constantly changing.
How serious is the flu?
Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long term health conditions.
How does the flu spread?
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people with the flu will not have a fever.
How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?
People with the flu may be able to infect others by shedding virus from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. However, children and people with weakened immune systems can shed virus for longer, and might be
still contagious past 5 to 7 days of being sick, especially if they still have symptoms.
What sort of flu season is expected this year?
It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season usually varies from one season to another.
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
PROTECT YOUR CHILD
How can I protect my child against the flu?
To protect against the flu, the first and most important thing you can do is to get a flu vaccine for yourself and your child.
- Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
- It’s especially important that young children and children with long term health conditions get vaccinated.
- Caregivers of children with health conditions or of children younger than 6 months old should get vaccinated (babies younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated themselves).
Is there a medicine to treat the flu?
Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner and may prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia, for example, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. These drugs are different from antibiotics, but they also need to be prescribed by a doctor. They work best when started during
the first 2 days of illness.
What are some of the other ways I can protect my child against the flu?
In addition to getting vaccinated, take – and encourage your child to take – everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs. This includes:
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- If someone in the household is sick, try to keep the sick person in a separate room from others in the household, if possible.
- Keep surfaces like bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
- Throw tissues and other disposable items used by sick persons in your household in the trash.
These everyday steps are a good way to reduce your chances of getting all sorts of illnesses, but the CDC says a yearly flu vaccine is always the best way to specifically prevent the flu.
What should I use for hand washing?
Washing hands with soap and water (for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice) will help protect against many germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
IF YOUR CHILD IS SICK
What can I do if my child gets sick?
If your child is 5 years and older and does not have other health problems and gets flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed and make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. If your child is younger than 5 years (and especially younger than 2 years) or of any age with a long term health conditions (like asthma, a neurological condition, or diabetes, for example) and develops flu-like symptoms, they are at risk for serious complications from the flu. Ask a doctor if your child should be examined.
What if my child seems very sick?
Even children who have always been healthy before or had the flu before can get very sick from the flu. Call for emergency care or take your child to a doctor right away if your child of any age has any of the warning or emergency signs below:
- 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
- Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma) and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.
Can my child go to school or day care if he or she is sick?
No. Your child should stay home to rest and to avoid giving the flu to other children or caregivers.
When can my child go back to school after having the flu?
Keep your child home from school or day care for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher.