Swine Flu – What you need to know!
We are all The Swine Flu epidemic is likely to get worse before it gets better and it is important to be aware of symptoms of the virus. We have answered some commonly asked questions so that you are aware of the precautions and there no unnecessary panic.
How do you tell if a child has swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are like any other flu. Call your child’s paediatrician immediately if your child has any of the following symptoms and a temperature of 38°C or above or feels hot:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Aching muscles
- Limb and joint pain
Nearly everyone with swine flu has at least two of these symptoms. Those of you who have travelled from the affected countries in the past ten days and show symptoms swine flu like fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing should immediately contact the nearby Government Hospital.
Please do not send your child to Shemrock, especially if they have these symptoms. Any student or staff member showing flu like symptoms such as fever, cough, running nose and difficulty in breathing should stay at home for a period of 7 to 10 days.
What are symptoms that require emergency treatment?
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Bluish skin colour
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
- Stops Drinking – If your child quits drinking fluids do not hesitate to rush them to the emergency room. Dehydration is a killer for young children. In addition, if they have explosive diarrhoea or vomiting you should seek immediate emergency treatment.
- Breathing Problems – If they appear to be breathing quickly or having any shortness of breath, get them help quickly. The faster you get emergency help in this situation, the more likely they will suffer no adverse affects.
- Body Aches – If they act as if they are in pain when you hold them, or try to wriggle away because they appear uncomfortable, it could indicate severe body pain.
- Flat Affect – If they are not maintaining eye contact, this is a warning sign of severe viral infection.
- Will Not Wake Up or not interacting- Finally, if you are unable to wake your child, call an ambulance immediately.
Do not hesitate in these situations. Swine Flu is a deadly virus and can be treated with antiviral medications such as Tami flu so getting your child treated immediately can save your child’s life.
How does it spread?
The new swine flu virus is highly contagious, that is it spreads from person to person. Children especially under the age of five are more likely to catch this flu (or any other infection) as their immune systems are still maturing. The virus is spread through the droplets that come out of the nose or mouth when someone coughs or sneezes. If someone coughs or sneezes and they do not cover it, those droplets can spread about one metre (3ft). If you are very nearby you might breathe them in. Or, if someone coughs or sneezes into their hand, those droplets and the virus within them are easily transferred to surfaces that the person touches, such as door handles, hand rails, telephones and keyboards. If you touch these surfaces and touch your face, the virus can enter your system, and you can become infected.
What precautions should we take with children to avoid swine flu?
Two things – soap and water can reduce the chance of infection by 30 per cent. All you need to do is keep washing your hand with soap and water frequently. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner when soap and water are not available.
Teach them not to touch their face and mouth, as germs on their hand may find their way into their body
Avoid contact with anyone who is sick, especially with flu-like symptoms
Try to avoid areas that are too crowded where people are breathing very close to your babies and children – crowded beaches, packed temples etc., Be sensible about this. Don’t avoid going out, just try to avoid packed crowds.
If someone has returned from abroad, go see them or have them visit you after they have spent a week or so in India. This will give time for them to manifest any flu symptoms.
If one child has flu like symptoms, while another does not, try to keep them isolated from each other. Of course, do this gently in a way that is fair to both children so that the one with the flu like symptoms does not feel that they are at fault.
If they have a cough or a cold, make sure they use a tissue when they cough or sneeze and then throw it away. Ensure they wash their hands after this also.
Clean hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product
Follow other good general health practices with children also
Drink enough fluids
Eat nutritious healthy foods
What should I do if I see these symptoms in my child?
Don’t panic. You cannot confirm if you have swine flu just based on your symptoms. Doctors may offer a rapid flu test, but what you need to understand is a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have the flu. Only Government lab tests can definitively show whether you’ve got swine flu. If you are worried about your child, always call your child’s paediatrician for advice. Do not avoid going to the doctor because people scare you about quarantine etc., It is better to have a professional treat your baby or child than stay at home and hope for the best. As soon as you see the symptoms above, call your baby or child’s paediatrician and inform them that your baby or child has flu like symptoms, before you drop into their clinic. They may want to take precautions to ensure that you do not spread it to other people there. Do not wait till things become worse.
Should I send my child to Shemrock?
Ofcourse! Unless your child is showing any of the symptoms discussed above. We are being extra cautious but there is no need to panic.
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