News of the swine flu — also known by its more scientific name H1N1 virus — is all over the place.
As the virus continues to spread and has already resulted in the closing of several schools, we know that many GreatSchools members have questions about the swine flu, how best to prevent it, what to do if schools close, and how to talk to their kids about it.
Prevent the spread of the virus. We encourage you to read the comprehensive information on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, which includes key facts about the virus and how best to prevent its spread. The CDC advises people to take commonsense, everyday precautions:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Develop contingency plans. Schools that have confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu may temporarily close to prevent its spread. We encourage parents to create contingency plans by checking with the school and other community groups.
Talk to your kids. The swine flu can also be scary for kids — especially given its attention in the media and the fact that it's an 'invisible' illness.
We encourage parents to initiate a conversation with their kids about swine flu. Ask what they know and what concerns them. For younger children, keep the explanations simple.
As Harold Koplewicz, a child psychiatrist and director of the New York University Child Study Center, told USA Today, "You could say, 'Some people have gotten sick with a flu you get from contact with someone who has it. Mom and Dad are going to make sure you're safe. We'll take care of you.'
More Resources on the Web
American Academy of Pediatrics Advice on Swine Flu
Center for Disease Control