BY MELANIE BUCK –
As the nation is seeing severe cases of influenza from coast to coast, health officials would like to remind the community of how to prevent the flu and also, give area school guidelines to keep from spreading the illness.
Amanda Page, RN for the Mena School District, said they have seen moderate cases of the flu/flu-like symptoms. Mena’s full list of medical guidelines can be found on their website, www. http://hs.menaschools.org/. Some of those include, if your child has a temperature of 100 or greater, he or she should not return to school until they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol, Advil, or Ibuprofen. Mena also requires the student to have been on Tamiflu for 24 hours before the return to school. However, Page said, “Most kids who have been on Tamiflu for 2-3 days are still not feeling well and are absent 3-4 days at a time.” Although 100 degrees is usually the temperature of fever when students are sent home, Mena’s district is sending students home with less of a fever when they exhibit flu-like symptoms, just to be safe.
Acorn’s school nurse, Lisa Falls, LPN, said they have seen several cases of the flu and flu-like symptoms and are allowing doctors to make the determination of when a student should go back to school. “We’ve had about 20 cases of actually diagnosed flu. There is also another viral illness going around that has similar symptoms,” said Falls.
In the Cossatot River School District, RN Cari Bush, reported that they have had quite a few more cases this year than last year. “We’ve had several students going home daily with flu-like symptoms. As far as protocol, typically it would be 100 degrees but we have gone down to 99.5, or 99.3 if there are other symptoms.”
All schools, along with the Arkansas Department of Health are encouraging everyone to take preventative measures to hinder the spread of influenza. Being vaccinated is the most important step. When symptoms occur, see a physician. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and always wash your hands.
Each year in the United States, 25-50 million infections are reported, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 23,600 die due to seasonal flu. The seasonal flu virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching your nose or mouth.