‘Less lethal’ swine flu update: School closings may be unneeded

Tue, 05/05/2009 - 3:54pm
By: John Munford

Despite the recent publicity about the global swine flu outbreak, Fayette County public school officials haven’t changed their policy about handling potential flu cases among students, staff and visitors.

The school system has always urged staff to stay home if they are sick, and children who become ill with flu-like symptoms during the day will have their parents called to pick them up so as not to spread the virus, said Melinda Berry-Dreisbach. Likewise, parents are urged not to bring ill siblings to school to visit siblings, she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also asking parents to make sure they keep sick children at home to prevent the infection from spreading to other kids. Same goes for teachers and school visitors, CDC officials said Tuesday afternoon in a news conference.

“And it’s really about staying home until the infection can be kept from spreading any further,” a CDC official said in a news conference Tuesday.

The good news released by CDC Tuesday afternoon is that the swine flu virus is significantly less lethal than initially thought. During a regular flu season about 36,000 people die from the flu, a CDC official said during a news conference Tuesday.

If a Fayette public school is going to be closed, that decision will be up to the school superintendent in conjunction with the Fayette County Board of Education, Berry-Dreisbach said.

As part of the expanding swine flu outbreak, the CDC is urging all people to stay home if they become ill with flu-like symptoms. Health officials are also asking people to frequently wash their hands, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth (which can spread infection) and also stay away from other sick people.

Also people should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then immediately disposing of that tissue, officials said.

The swine flu is transmitted from human to human contact and it is a different strain than is covered by flu vaccines. It is susceptible to certain types of antibiotics, however, officials have said.

As of Tuesday afternoon there were more than 700 cases reported in 44 states, according to the CDC, and there are likely to be more cases of hospitalization tied to the swine flu.

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