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Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

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  • Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

    DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention
    For Release On: August 10, 2009

    Baton Rouge: With the school year now underway throughout most of the state, health officials are urging students and parents to add one more item to the back-to-school checklist: a plan to avoid getting and spreading the flu and for what to do if someone in your family does get it.
    "We fully expect to see widespread seasonal and H1N1 flu activity, so families should plan for what to do when it happens," said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine. "Fortunately, the prevention and treatment tips for both strains of the flu are the same. With aggressive attention to prevention and treatment, we can help reduce the health impact of flu and minimize unnecessary interruptions in our schools, work places and communities."

    People should try to stay healthy by using these hygiene tips:

    Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw away the tissue after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

    Avoid close contact with sick people.

    "Even though we are outside of our ‘normal’ flu season, the flu is still circulating and both seasonal flu and H1N1 will continue to spread throughout the year," said State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. "If there are two tips I can give Louisiana citizens, whether they’re students, parents or teachers, it’s to get a seasonal flu vaccine when the vaccine becomes available, and stay home when you are sick."

    A seasonal flu vaccination can help reduce the need for expensive and time- consuming medical treatment later by protecting people from coming down with the flu in the first place. This is especially important for people at high risk of complications from influenza, including children under five years old; adults 65 years of age and older; pregnant women; and people with existing respiratory, pulmonary and certain other underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

    "Because the new H1N1 flu vaccine won’t be available until at least December, it is important for students and school workers, especially very young children and their caregivers, to get a seasonal flu shot, to help avoid getting seasonal flu this year," Dr. Guidry said. "When the new H1N1 vaccine becomes available, people can go back to get that one, too."

    To limit the spread of the virus as much as possible, parents, teachers and students need to be able to identify the symptoms of influenza-like illness, like fever with a cough or sore throat. Students who appear to have these symptoms at school should be isolated promptly, and sent home as soon as possible. Symptomatic faculty and staff should be removed from contact with others and also allowed to go home.

    To help ensure they do not pass the virus on to others, patients should not return to work or school—or anywhere else, such as group childcare, shopping centers, sporting events or other public and community events-- until they have been symptom-free without fever-reducing medication for at least 24 hours.

    At this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is NOT recommending school closures or dismissals if there are confirmed or suspected cases of the flu, so flu identification and patient isolation are key steps in preventing spread of flu.

    The good news for parents and school workers is that the vast majority of symptoms associated with flu-like illnesses can be treated at home. The recommended treatment for the flu in patients without additional complications is rest, plenty of fluids and fever-reducing medicines. (Aspirin or products with aspirin should never be given to anyone under 18 due to the risk of Reye syndrome.)

    If a patient’s symptoms are severe or he or she experiences complications, the patient should CALL his or her health care provider to see if an appointment is necessary.

    People at high risk for complications from influenza also should call their doctors if they experience flu-like symptoms. Rather than go to a doctor’s office, these people should talk to their doctor to determine the best medical intervention or course of treatment.

    Since the H1N1 outbreak in the spring, DHH has been working closely with the Department of Education to develop and disseminate pandemic flu plans to school systems, and to share flu prevention methods, good hygiene techniques and general flu messages for schools.

    For the latest information on the H1N1 virus, visit www.FluLa.com.

    The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.


    http://wwwprd.doa.louisiana.gov/LaNe...=2162&Rec_ID=0
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela

  • #2
    Re: Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

    Do we have some suggestions or guidelines on how the sick students who stay home can keep up school work? Some students may be sick for more than a week. Similar questions apply for the employees of the school.
    If there are protections in place for people who stay home, they are more likely to do so. If they are further penalized for staying home then they are more likely to circumvent the recommendations.
    JT
    Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

      Do we have some suggestions or guidelines
      I hope to find something along this line... The Canada Buddy System (article from CIDRAP below).
      Maybe the schools and businesses need to identify for everyone a buddy who can assist those who are sick to stay home.

      Buddy up to help 'vulnerable' during flu pandemic
      http://www.nationalpost.com/m/story....1870330&s=Home
      Canada's public health agency is urging Canadians to identify a "flu buddy" willing to help care for them should they get sick with human swine flu this fall.
      The Public Health Agency of Canada told Canwest News Service that Canadians should "talk with family, friends and neighbours and figure out how you might help each other during the H1N1 pandemic."
      "Identify elderly or vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours who may need your help," the agency said in a statement to Canwest.
      "During a pandemic outbreak, keep an eye on these people, especially those living alone and phone them if you suspect they might be ill...."
      Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

        States and school districts should reference and follow the entire guidelines set out by the CDC. I list it below and pick up on the areas that discuss more fully the issues associated with school policies on mitigationg the risk of infections. Still we need to see some examples of continuity of learning and supported child care.
        [
        URL="http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/schools/schoolguidance.htm"]http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/schools/schoolguidance.htm[/URL]

        CDC Guidance for State and Local Public Health Officials and School Administrators for School (K-12) Responses to Influenza during the 2009-2010 School Year
        Deciding on a course of action
        CDC and its partners will continuously look for changes in the severity of influenza-like illness and will share what is learned with state and local agencies. However, states and local communities can expect to see a lot of differences in disease burden across the country.
        Every state and community has to balance a variety of objectives to determine their best course of action to help decrease the spread of influenza. Decision-makers should explicitly identify and communicate their objectives which might be one or more of the following: (a) protecting overall public health by reducing community transmission; (b) reducing transmission in students and school staff; and (c) protecting people with high-risk conditions.
        Some strategies can have negative consequences in addition to their potential benefits. In the particular case of school dismissals, decision-makers also must consider and balance additional factors: (a) how to ensure students continue to learn; (2) how to provide an emotionally and physically safe place for students; and (3) how to reduce demands on local health care services. The following questions can help begin discussions and lead to decisions at the state and local levels.
        Decision-Makers and Stakeholders
        Are all of the right decision-makers and stakeholders involved?
        • State and/or local health officials
        • State and/or local education officials
        • State and/or local homeland security officials
        • State and/or local governing officials (e.g., governors, mayors)
        Parent and student representatives
        • Representatives of local businesses, the faith community, school-employee unions, and community organizations
        • Teachers
        • Health care providers and hospitals
        • School nurses
        • School food service directors
        • Vendors that supply schools
        Information Collection and Sharing
        Can local or state health officials determine and share information about the following?• Outpatient visits for influenza-like illness
        • Hospitalizations for influenza-like illness
        • Trends in the numbers of hospitalizations or deaths
        • Percent hospitalized patients who require admission to intensive care units (ICU)
        • Deaths from influenza
        • Groups being disproportionately affected
        • Ability of local health care providers and emergency departments to meet increased demand
        • Availability of hospital bed, ICU space, and ventilators for influenza patients
        • Availability of hospital staff
        • Availability of antiviral medications
        Can local education agencies or schools determine and share information about the following?
        • School absenteeism rates
        • Number of visits to school health offices daily
        • Number of students with influenza-like illness sent home during the school day
        Feasibility
        Do you have the resources to implement the strategies being considered?
        • Funds
        • Personnel
        • Equipment
        • Space
        • Time
        • Legal authority or policy requirements
        Acceptability
        Have you determined how to address the following challenges to implementing the strategies?
        • Public concern about influenza
        • Lack of public support for the intervention
        • People who do not feel empowered to protect themselves
        • Secondary effects of strategies (for example, dismissing schools could impact child nutrition, job security, financial support, health service access, and educational progress)
        Thought has a dual purpose in ethics: to affirm life, and to lead from ethical impulses to a rational course of action - Teaching Reverence for Life -Albert Schweitzer. JT

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Louisiana DHH Issues Back-to-School Guidelines for Flu Prevention

          "we need to see some examples of continuity of learning and supported child care"

          Absolutely.

          These guidelines are preparing us for the "best" case scenario when we all know how unpredictable this pandemic is. I do not see any clear and concrete plans of action for parents. The only thing I can suggest is to meet the teachers and discuss all eventualities, for example what if the child is sick for a long period, what if mandatory isolation is required, what if the school close...

          If we have to put our children on a boat directly in the path of an hurricane, we definitely deserve a little more then this single piece of paper.
          "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
          -Nelson Mandela

          Comment

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