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LPOSD School District advises parents on swine flu

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Sneeze into your arm, not into your hands, even with a tissue Sneeze into your arm, not into your hands, even with a tissue

District responds to concerns regarding pandemic.

 Lake Pend Oreille School District is sending the following letter home with students today regarding swine influenza A H1N1, which the World Health Organization is classifying as a level 5 pandemic.

Dr. Richard Besser, director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press conference on April 28, “it's very important that people follow what we call home isolation practices.  What that means is if you're sick, if you have a fever and you have flulike illness, stay home.  Don't go to school.  Don't send your children to school.  Don't go to work.  Stay home.  So that you can get better, and you're going to be less likely to spread the infection to somebody else.  We're asking in areas where there's confirmed cases -- if you are a confirmed case of swine flu, that not only you stay home, but that the rest of the family think about staying home as well.  Not because they are sick or definitively know that they're sick, but because there's a chance that they could be brewing the infection.  And by not spending as much time in the community, they, too, can help reduce the likelihood of transmission.”

There are currently no confirmed cases of swine influenza A H1N1 in North Idaho – a suspected case in Spokane County, Wash. is awaiting confirmation from the CDC. (Current tests can show influenza A but only react to the human H1N1. If a patient with flu symptoms tests positive for influenza A but negative for human H1N1, the patient is treated as a suspected case of the current flu strain that’s creating concern, and samples are sent to Atlanta for further testing. This testing can take from one to three days.)

The CDC recommendation was made in an effort to contain the spread of this virus. There are currently 109 confirmed laboratory cases of swine influenza A H1N1 in 11 states. Containment is critical; currently, this virus has shown itself susceptible to treatment with two antiviral medications, limiting the severity of illness in those who receive treatment in a timely manner. However, the U.S. federal and state stockpile contains only 71 million doses. The Institute of Medicine estimates it would take twice that amount to respond to a pandemic.

The district’s letter to parents does not address district policy regarding student absences – currently, a student who misses more than 9 days in a semester is in danger of losing their credits. Given that this pandemic is occurring near the end of the final semester of school, parents may be hesitant to keep their children home and risk losing credits. Superintendent Dick Cvitanich stated in an interview that the district has “made no decisions on attendance. However, we do review attendance and reasonable excuses at each school when determining credit/excessive absences. When a student exceeds the limit much discussion takes place regarding reason, efforts to keep up with school work, other absences throughout the year. In short, although there are limits to absences, each one is reviewed individually.”

 

Dear Parent/Guardian:

 

As you are aware, there is mounting concern with public health officials regarding swine flu.  As a school district we share this concern. Our buildings are public places with many children, parents and community members interacting. Although we have no reported cases of swine flu in our schools it is important for school personnel and families to remain vigilant regarding the potential spread of this illness. The following information may be helpful to you:

 

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

 

How does swine flu spread?

Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

 

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?

First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner.  The Center for Disease Control recommends that you wash for 15-20 seconds.

 

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue by releasing into your elbow. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

 

What should I do if I get sick?

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. Call your primary health care provider for further instructions. Also, please notify your school and leave a phone number where you can be reached.

 

If you would like further information a good source is the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu  In addition, the Panhandle Health District at 1-800-878-2364 or 263-5159 can answer general questions.

 

Dick Cvitanich, Superintendent

Lake Pend Oreille School District

See related story here: Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

education, health, Lake Pend Oreille School District, H1N1, swine flu, Dick Cvitanich

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