Children’s Hospital offers tips on H1N1 and seasonal flu

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With the early onset of flu season coinciding with the start of school this year, parents are concerned about the flu. Experts from The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colo., offer a pediatric perspective on all types of flu, including H1N1, also known as swine flu. They offer practical advice on how parents can help protect their families from the flu, as well as what to do should their children catch the virus.

Key Facts:

  • As with seasonal flu, H1N1 is a viral respiratory infection. The main symptoms are a cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever. The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms tend to develop quickly and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and congestion of a cold.
  • Seasonal flu shots do not protect against H1N1. Updated annually, the vaccine for the 2009 influenza season was produced in January 2009, well before the worldwide H1N1 outbreak. Because of this, manufacturers did not include the H1N1 strain in the 2009 influenza vaccine. Therefore, the manufacturers are making a specific H1N1 vaccine that should be available for use in high-risk populations (i.e., all people from six months through 24 years of age, pregnant women, adults with chronic medical conditions, people who live with or care for children younger than six months, and health care personnel with direct patient contact) this fall.
  • If you think your child may have H1N1 or seasonal flu, call your pediatrician or primary care provider for advice. If your child has flu-like symptoms and is only mildly ill, it is best to care for him or her at home and limit contact with others. If you think your child has a viral infection, make sure they are getting plenty of fluids. Do not give your child aspirin or aspirin-containing products (Pepto-Bismol, for example). Treat their fever with infant/child approved doses of Tylenol or Motrin.
  • All strains of flu are spread by coughing, sneezing and unclean hands. Practicing good hygiene is the best precaution to take to avoid the spread of influenza. Specific tips to prevent the spread of germs include:
    • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner (wash for 15 seconds or the time it takes to sing the ABC’s once), especially after coughing or sneezing
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
    • When you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as this is how germs are spread
    • If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home and limit contact with others until the symptoms are gone
    • Get your seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations

Supporting Quote:

“The H1N1 virus spreads and looks much like seasonal influenza,” said Roberta Smith, infection control nurse with The Children’s Hospital’s department of epidemiology. “The simplest, most effective steps for parents to take to protect their families from flu include encouraging frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and keeping sick children away from others.”

Supporting Resources:

Homepage: www.thechildrenshospital.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thechildrenshospital
Twitter: @childrensdenver
Link to additional information regarding the flu: www.thechildrenshospital.org/flu
Link to information specific to H1N1: www.thechildrenshospital.org/H1N1
Link to hand washing video: http://tinyurl.com/tchhandwashing

 

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