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Oink-choo: The Swine Flu and You… for Teachers

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What is the real danger of swine flu?Oink-choo: The Swine Flu and You… for Teachers

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but EVERYONE is freaking out about the swine flu. It seems like a good time to share some basics about the illness and some ways you can deal with the swine flu (and the resulting panic) in your classroom.

 

The swine flu is a strain of influenza that has adapted from an illness that typically only affects pigs. A strand affecting humans started spreading in Mexico, where the swine flu has been most severe. A weaker strand is believed to be spreading through the US and internationally.

The disease spreads between people like your typical flu. Swine flu is not spread by any food products, including pork or other pig byproducts.

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According to the World Health Organization, most of those infected with the swine flu virus have fully recovered without need of medical attention or antiviral drugs.

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
Source: CDC (As of May 3, 2009 11:00 AM ET)

States

# of lab confirmed
cases

Deaths

Alabama

1

 

Arizona

18

 

California

26

 

Colorado

4

 

Connecticut

2

 

Delaware

10

 

Florida

3

 

Illinois

3

 

Indiana

3

 

Iowa

1

 

Kansas

2

 

Kentucky*

1

 

Massachusetts

7

 

Michigan

2

 

Minnesota

1

 

Missouri

1

 

Nebraska

1

 

Nevada

1

 

New Hampshire

1

 

New Jersey

7

 

New Mexico

1

 

New York

63

 

Ohio

3

 

Rhode Island

1

 

South Carolina

15

 

Tennessee

1

 

Texas

40

1

Utah

1

 

Virginia

3

 

Wisconsin

3

 

TOTAL (30)

226 cases

1 death

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
See:
World Health Organization

Symptoms

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the symptoms are similar to that of your average flu.

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe headache
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • General discomfort

 

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

·         Fast breathing or trouble breathing

·         Bluish skin color

·         Not drinking enough fluids

·         Not waking up or not interacting

·         Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

·         Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

·         Fever with a rash

 

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

·         Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

·         Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

·         Sudden dizziness

·         Confusion

·         Severe or persistent vomiting  

Prevention & Treatment: oseltamivir or zanamivir or other antiviral prescription drugs. See the CDC guide for full rundown

 

While it is important not to panic or let the swine flu scare disrupt your life, you should be informed and try to avoid getting the flu – swine or otherwise. 

Classroom Tips

-         Since swine flu spreads like any other strain of the flu, a good immune system could stop it before it starts. I’m a firm believer in vitamin C prevention – I’ve kicked four colds to the curb in the last year – and lots of sleep to ward off illness. Practice it yourself AND tell your students

-         Stock up on standard germ prevention products

o       Antibacterial hand sanitizer

o       Lysol/Clorox wipes to kill germs

o       Kleenex

o       Soap for when constant hand-washing

-         Germ Hot Spots

o       Door knobs

o       Anything for communal use

§         Computers

§         Hall passes

§         Shared desks

§         Calculators or any other shared learning aids

§         Listen to NPR’s “Where Germs Lurk in Grade School” report for more

-         A lot of “end of the year” activities, games and general excitement are on the agenda. You may want to postpone any that involve hand-holding or other physical contact, including

o       Red rover

o       Heads up, 7 up

o       High fiving

o       Accepting homework from students (Maybe I’m just allergic to grading…)

 

Dealing with Parents

-         Information is the key to preventing parental panic before it starts.

-         Has your principal sent out a call/email or other form of memo to parents reassuring them that there no students are currently diagnosed? If not, you may want to do so yourself.

-         What should you tell them?

o       Some basic information on swine flu to combat unnecessary alarm.

o       If any students have been diagnosed OR if NONE have.

o       Strategies you’re taking in the classroom to prevent germs spreading (whether it’s effective or not, it should be reassuring).

o       A notice for the less vigilant parents reminding them to keep students home if they’re exhibiting any symptoms.

School Closing Info

-      Decisions to close schools are generally made on the district or state level.

-      The CDC urges schools who have a suspected OR confirmed case of swine flu to close until

-      Ask administrators for specific information on how teachers and students will be notified of school closure.

-      You may also want to ask if athletics be suspended for the duration of school closings.  The CDC encourages any local education agency that closes due to pandemic illness to discontinue all related activities as well.

-      Some teachers have raised questions about re-entering school to retrieve class pets or other things that can't wait until you return to school. Unless a quarantine is in place (which is unlikely at this point), someone should be able to get into the school and take care of those concerns.

-      See the CDC guidelines for school closure for more information

 

Share your tips to stay swine flue free in the comments section!

Everyone here at TeachHUB hopes you stay healthy and (cross your fingers) get a day or two off for purely "preventative" measures!

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