August 3, 2009

Schools should not overreact to swine flu

Parents and school staff will need to balance the need for being prepared with avoiding overreaction to influenza A H1N1, U.S. health experts say.

Lloyd Kolbe and Dr. David Orentlicher, both of Indiana University Bloomington, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, say if teachers, administrators and parents emphasize hand washing now, instead of waiting for outbreaks, it will at least help prevent the spread of colds, or H1N1 flu.

Orentlicher says the CDC recommends that:

-- School dismissal is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of novel influenza A H1N1 and, in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school's ability to function.

-- Students, faculty or staff with influenza-like illness, fever with a cough or sore throat, should stay home.

-- Aspirin or aspirin-containing products should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected cases of novel H1N1 influenza virus infection in those age 18 and and younger, due to the risk of Reye syndrome. It is associated with aspirin consumption by children with viral illness, but also occurs in the absence of aspirin use.