Public Health of Seattle & King County has reported that more school-aged children in King County are becoming ill as flu-like illness increases at schools. The agency is closely monitoring the spread of H1N1 influenza (swine flu), which now numbers 384 cases in the county as of May 25. Officials are urging continued work by parents, schools and day cares to reduce the spread of infections.
In other parts of the country, outbreaks in schools are resulting in multiple school closures.
“We want to reduce that possibility here by doing everything possible to keep sick kids and staff out of school and child cares,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Public Health is advising parents to keep their children home for seven days if they have flu symptoms of fever and a cough or sore throat. If after seven days they still have symptoms, they should stay at home until symptoms are gone for 24 hours.
A Public Health press release states that the severity of virus symptoms appears to be no different from the typical seasonal flu, resulting in infections without medical complications for most people. But school-aged children appear to be more susceptible to infection with nearly 70 percent of confirmed H1N1 cases reported in King County. More than 75 public schools and 12 school districts, as well as several private schools, are affected and 11 students were hospitalized. Officials also said they believe the virus is now widespread throughout the county and reported that cases reflect only a fraction of the disease’s prevalence in the community now.
With more widespread illness in the community, Public Health is reminding residents to take basic personal hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of swine flu:
• If you are sick, stay home.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid contact with sick people.
For more information and frequent updates, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/H1N1 or call the recorded Flu Hotline at (877) 903-5464.