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A Message from Nurse Rice

WHAT IS THE FLU?

The influenza (flu) virus causes serious illness that may result in hospitalization or death.  It mostly affects the breathing system, but may also affect the whole body.  The flu season usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring.  Talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated so that you are protected year-round. 

People can get the flu more than once per year and many times in their lives.  Influenza viruses are unpredictable.  They are always changing over time and from year to year.  Three seasonal flu viruses are expected to make children sick again this flu season.

SIGNS OF THE FLU

All flu viruses cause a respiratory illness that can last a week or more.  Flu symptoms include:

  • A sudden Fever (usually above 101 degrees F)
  • Chills and body shakes
  • Headache, body aches and being a lot more tired than usual
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Stuffy, runny nose

Some children may throw up (vomit) and have loose stools (diarrhea).  Talk with your child's doctor if your child has ear pain, a cough that won't go away, or a fever that won't go away.

HOW TO PREVENT THE FLU

Get the flu vaccine every year.  Safe vaccines are made each year to protect against the flu.  This year's flu vaccine protects against 1 strain from last year and 2 new strains.

KEEP FLU GERMS FROM SPREADING

The flu virus spreads easily through the air with coughing and sneezing, and through touching things like doorknobs or toys and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Everyone should wash his/her hands often. Use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  And an alcohol-based hand cleanser or sanitizer works well too.
  • Teach your child to cover his mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.  Show your child how to cough into the elbow or upper sleeve (not a hand) or use a tissue.
  • Wash dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher.
  • Teach your child to try not to touch her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Wash doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops and even toys.  use a disinfectant wipe or a cloth with soap and hot water.

IF YOUR CHILD GETS THE FLU

Call the doctor right away if your child shows any signs of the flu and:

  • Is 3 months or younger and has a fever
  • Has fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • looks very sick
  • Is more sleepy than usual
  • Is very fussy no matter what you do
  • Cannot or will not drink anything
  • Urinates (pees) very little

Go to the emergency department right away if your child:

  • Has signs of the flu that keep getting worse
  • Has blue skin color
  • Will not wake up at all

KEEP YOUR CHILD HOME

Keep your child home from school or child care when she has a fever and other signs of the flu.  Your child needs rest.  Also, your child can give the flu to other children.  Your child should stay home at least 24 hours after his fever is gone.  Start counting time after you stop giving your child fever medicines.  A temperature of 100 degrees F or higher is a sign of fever.

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