Schools gear up for Swine flu - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Schools gear up for Swine flu

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Fifty thermometers have been bought to go in the front offices at every public school in Dougherty County and if kids show up with a fever, they'll be sent home.

A widespread outbreak of the flu is expected this fall and while health officials await the release of a vaccine, it's important that you take steps now to protect your children.

Health officials say this particular flu is more contagious than the seasonal flu. They also say children are more susceptible to getting this flu strand than adults, so its very important for parents to become as educated on the subject as possible.

Chris Cleveland is a father of three. He says he says he does all he can at home to prepare his kids for the "back to school germs" but there is only so much he can stress at home before his kids are on their own and for some parents that can be kind of scary. "You never know who's got it, really could be anywhere you never know who is carrying it and not being around the kids all summer and being healthy and it doesn't take but a few days and you've picked up a germ."

Southwest Georgia Public health officials say as students go back to school they will likely come in contact with more germs.That's why it is important for students to take extra time to do the things they know they should

"What we advise is that they wash their hands with warm soapy water and they can do that by singing the happy birthday song twice or they can use an alcohol based hand sanitizer," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, District Health Director.

Students should cover their mouth when they sneeze and should avoid touching their eyes and mouth.

Health officials say ninety percent of people infected with the H1N1 flu will experience a fever. They also may experience other mild to moderate symptoms such as a cough or sore throat, but there have been people who have been hospitalized.

"We want parents to know if their children are experiencing shortness of breath or don't have any energy or the fever is lasting more than two or three days then they should contact their medical provider," said Dr. Grant.

Heath officials say parents need to hit the books too

"Just know what's going on, know when the flu shots are available make some decisions,do some reading and do some research and get as much information so you can make an informed decision for not only yourself but your family," said Dr. Grant.

Children and teens will be sent home with a letter informing parents and guardians on the flu and safety precautions they should take to ensure their child's good health.

Health officials say the most important thing to remember is if your child has a fever ..DO NOT send him to school, if he has a fever of 100 degrees he or she will be sent home.

The H1-N1 vaccine is expected to be available by the fall.

Pregnant women, health care workers, children six months and older and people with high risk medical conditions will be among the first to get the shots.

You can find much more information about H1-N1 on the HEALTH page at WALB.com.

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