Swine flu has created widespread panic amongst governments, health organizations, medical practitioners and scientists as well as the media and the common man. While there are a number of reasons for this reaction, chiefly the speed at which the virus spreads, a large cause of concern is that it is children and teens that are most vulnerable. For parents and childcare professionals around the world, information on swine flu is the most efficient protection against the swine flu risk.
Recognizing Signs of Swine Flu in Children
Watch for the signs of swine flu or regular flu: fever, coughing, head and body ache, chills, and a sore throat. In young children, symptoms that require urgent medical treatment are: rash on the body accompanied by fever, unconsciousness, unresponsiveness, blue tinge to skin tone, respiratory difficulty or breathing faster than usual. If your child displays any signs of swine flu, keep him or her at home and away from childcare or school, and get a doctor’s opinion.
Tips for Parents to Protect Against Swine Flu
- As a rule, it is a good practice to develop and encourage habits of washing hands often during the day. Teach children to wash their hands and face in the morning, in the evening, before and after meals, and shower after playing or before going to bed.
- Teach children to avoid touching their face or mouth to prevent transmission of any virus or bacteria.
- Arm yourself with information on swine flu to be prepared for any signs or precautions.
- Simple etiquette like using a handkerchief or tissue when sneezing can reduce the swine flu risk.
- Clean household surfaces, especially doors and door handles frequently. Regular household cleaners are effective to protect against swine flu.
- If your child is diagnosed, he or she will remain infectious for 7 days after the signs of swine flu started. Do not let infected children interact with other children or family members during this time. Stay at least one meter away from the infected person to avoid the swine flu risk and prevent contamination by droplets and keep a separate sleeping place if possible.
- Swine flu can be treated but antivirals cannot be taken unless a diagnosis confirms that your child has swine flu or is at serious risk of developing the illness.
Tips and Information on Swine Flu for Childcare Professionals
- Spread information on swine flu. Educate children in creative ways and ensure that they learn and practice methods to protect against swine flu.
- Teach children to wash hands and face regularly, and especially before eating.
- Children should be taught about germs, as well as to avoid touching their faces, to cover their mouths when sneezing and to use handkerchiefs.
- Clean all surfaces every day with a regular disinfectant, especially those that are touched by children to reduce swine flu risk.
- Observe rules of hygiene during eating and snack time. Provide a separate cup, plate, bowl and spoon for each child and label it so that there is no sharing.
- If a child displays signs of swine flu, ensure he or she is kept far away from other children until either a doctor arrives or until the parents can be called to take the child home.
- Children who show signs of swine flu will remain infectious for approximately 5 days after the symptoms begin to show. A child who is ill should not be allowed to come to childcare during this time.
- Use a spray with high alcohol content to disinfect the air around at regular intervals.
- Use social distancing in the areas where children congregate: move desks further apart, have smaller groups of children if possible, do not overcrowd children into one area for activities.
- Provide warm water and soap for children to wash hands, or hand rubs or sanitizers.
- Staff members who are ill should be made to stay at home, whether you are prepared for the extra time you or some other member will have to put in. A few extra hours of work will not hurt, but contracting an infection can have serious consequences.
- Prepare parents by providing information on swine flu and making your rules very clear. Some parents may try to drop children off when they go to work, even if the child is mildly ill. Lay down very strict rules on this or any other behavior that may endanger you, your staff or the other children
- Swine Flu Q&A – NHS UK
- Swine Flu and Children: Should Parents Be Worried? – Education
- Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention