H1N1 predicted to spread, school prepares - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

H1N1 predicted to spread, school prepares

By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Health officials say this type of flu is expected to last for several months. School systems everywhere are bracing for the impact.

H1N1 is predicted to continue spreading in young people over the next several months. In the spring when the pandemic first came out, health officials did not know what to expect.

"Overtime we've gotten some experience from it," said Dr. Lynne Feldman, South District Health Director. "We've seen that it prefers a younger population. It's not as severe as we thought it might be. It really turns out to be a mild type of flu."

On Tuesday, a mom called the Lowndes County School System to report her four children who attend Molten-Branch Elementary have H1N1.

These cases have not been confirmed. Dr. Feldman says generally, students who have this flu could have been exposed to it before going to school.

 "I think that when children are in an environment where they're close together it is more likely that they are going to spread the virus from one another," said Feldman. 

Schools that have not had any cases at this time are still preparing for the worst.

The Valdosta City School System is taking prevention measures seriously. They're sending out educational materials to parents. Teachers are reiterating the importance of health safety practices to their parents.

Students are also being shown the correct way to wash their hands and the importance of coughing in your sleeve.

"The custodial staff has stepped up, making sure that areas that may not have been concerns in the past are cleaned," said John Davis, S.L. Mason Principal.

He's also been working with the school nurse to handle concerns parents may have and to also create educational tools. South Health District recommends getting the seasonal flu vaccine, available in the next several weeks.

The H1N1 vaccine won't be available until by mid-October.

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