US Centers For Disease Control laboratory studies have shown that no children and very few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibodies to the novel H1N1 flu virus. The information analyzed by CDC supports the conclusion that novel H1N1 flu has caused greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than older people. Also, pregnancy and other previously recognized high risk medical conditions from seasonal influenza appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from this novel H1N1.
Children between the ages of 5-17 are also dying more often than adults. Because of this, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of distress which could mean H1N1 infection. In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- 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
… and Snap! The Job’s a Game
But enough with the negative. Lets talk about what you can do to keep your children and family safe this flu season. How you teach your children to be safe depends on their age. For younger children, make flu fighting a game. Teach them to use the Dracula Move when coughing and sneezing. The idea is to place your arm in front of your face like The Count holds up his cape, then cough or sneeze into your elbow or arm. When you cough or sneeze into your hand, you transfer the virus onto the next thing that you touch. But the Dracula Move prevents this transfer because you normally don’t pick things up with your elbows.
Ensure that your children have good hygene habits and know how to wash their hands. Teach them to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star twice while washing their hands with soap and water. Hang a travel size bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer from your child’s backpack and teach them to use it after recess, before they eat, and every time they move to a different room. Give a larger bottle to your child’s teacher as a back to school gift and ask him or her to leave it on their desk for use by all.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom say they will not close schools except under exceptional circumstances. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said a massive school closing wouldn’t stop swine flu. Experts say school closures simply buy time. They don’t reduce the number of cases; they just spread them over a longer period. Closing schools is also disruptive and costly as working parents must juggle their schedules to take care of their children.
But if schools in your community are closed, where do you suppose your teens are going to go? 42% of surveyed families said that they went to the mall. Probably not a good idea if you want to avoid picking up and bringing home the flu.
But if you must head to the mall, try to practice safe shopping. Watch where you put your hands, try not to touch your face, and don’t be afraid to be liberal with the hand sanitizer. The same bottle that hangs off of a back pack can hang from a purse strap or belt loop. We might even be at the front of a whole new fashon trend. Hmmmm, viral marketing of virus prevention measures.
To Wrap Up
While you don’t want to stop the feeling of closeness you have with family and friends, you might want to think twice about kissing friends and relatives on the mouth for a few months. Be aware of how many things you touch, and how often you touch your face afterwards. Wash your hands frequently. And finally remember that surgical masks don’t protect you, they protect others from you. Don’t get a false sense of security just because you’re wearing one.
And above all, be positive when talking with your children about keeping clean and virus free this winter.