As the new school year approaches, officials from the Manatee County Health Department, Manatee County School District and Manatee County Emergency Management officials have been working to prepare for what health officials may be the next wave of swine flu (H1N1).
The school district put its pandemic preparedness plan in place last may during the initial H1N1 outbreak.
“Protecting the health of school children and our community requires a three-way partnership,” stated Dr. Marc Yacht, acting director of the Manatee County Health Department. “As we move into the new school year, we want to build awareness of the current status of the H1N1 flu virus and ask you to join us in the responsibility of promoting healthy habits among everyone in our community.”
The virus began affecting students and adults last spring and has continued to be detected in school-age children over the summer in camps, schools and child care settings. A vaccine is still being developed and will not be available for several months.
Health officials are asking that parents keep sick children at home and away from activities where people are gathered and not to send children back to school until 24 hours after the symptoms have subsided without the use of fever-reducing medications. They also suggest covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, getting a seasonal flu shot and teaching your children not to share personal items.
Symptoms of the illness are the same as the more traditional flu. They include fever (higher than 100 degrees), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting also have been reported.
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