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What Schools Need to Know About Preventing the Spread of FLU?
About Flu
Influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza
viruses. Infection with influenza viruses can result in illness ranging from mild to severe and to
life-threatening complications. Five hundred out of 100,000 children with high-risk conditions
(such as heart disease or asthma) and 100 out of 100,000 otherwise healthy children aged 0 to 4
years who are infected with the flu will be hospitalized for complications each season.
Symptoms of Flu
Symptoms of flu include fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore
throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and
diarrhea, are much more common among children than adults.
Spread of the Flu
The flu is spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends the flu
virus into the air. The virus enters the nose, throat or lungs of another person and multiplies.

Treatment of the Flu
Antibiotics like penicillin will not cure the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.
Over-the-counter medications may relieve symptoms of flu. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for
children is recommended for both children and adults. Decongestants, cough suppressants, and
use of a humidifier can provide symptomatic relief. In addition to flu shots, three antiviral
medicines are available by prescription that will help treat the flu and its symptoms, and help
prevent the flu from spreading in your body. The three antiviral medicines are: Tamiflu,
Flumadine and Symmetrel.
Preventing the Spread of the Flu in Schools
While vaccination against the flu each fall remains the primary way to prevent this disease, the
following measures may help prevent flu in school settings.
Good Health Habits
The following steps may help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick. • Sick students should stay home from school until they have
been without fever for 24 hours to help prevent spreading illness to others.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash your hands to protect you from germs - • Wash hands several times a day using soap and
warm water for 15-20 seconds (this is generally around the time it takes to sing the ABC's).
Alcohol-based hand rubs also may be used.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Schools can assist the local health department with reporting outbreaks or unusually large
numbers of flu absences as a way to help understand the impact of the disease on the community.
Please report to the school if your child is diagnosed with flu or flu – like illness.
About the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine prevents the flu, a common and highly contagious infection that can cause
serious illness, and even death, in young children, older adults, and certain vulnerable people of
all ages. The vaccine protects between 45percent and 90 percent of healthy children from getting
the flu. Children and adults should ideally get a flu shot is in October.
References and Resources
www.cdc.gov/flu | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Home Page
www.immunizationinfo.org | National Network for Immunization Information

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