Health Guidelines to Help Prevent and Limit the Spread of Flu and Flu-Like Illnesses
January 27th, 2020
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity typically peaks between December and February and can continue into May. School custodians do a wonderful job of keeping our schools clean, but the spread of flu and other illnesses in a school building is a concern for all parents and school staff.
With concerns of the flu spreading each year and recent concerns on the coronavirus, here are recommendations and information on Influenza-Like Illnesses (ILI) and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to help prevent and avoid spreading infections.
Influenza-Like Illness (ILI)
Influenza and ILI viruses are spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. Here are a few recommendations to help prevent the spread of ILI:
- Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues or the elbow, arm or sleeve instead of the hand, when a tissue is unavailable.
- Get a flu vaccine. To help prevent flu and reduce its impact, everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated every year.
- Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms include fever (100 ˚F or greater), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
- Do not send children to school if they are sick. A child who is determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.
- Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.
If your child exhibits symptoms associated with influenza, such as a fever (100 ºF or higher), consult your primary care physician for evaluation. Infants, toddlers, seniors, pregnant women, and people with certain underlying health conditions are at increased risk of severe illness or complications from influenza, and should consult with their primary care physician if they develop symptoms of influenza.
For more information on influenza, please check the HCPSS flu prevention web page and Maryland Department of Health website.
The CDC provides guidelines on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
According to the CDC, if you were in Wuhan within 14 days and feel sick or have had close contact with someone who has recently traveled from this area and is showing symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands, when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
This is an evolving situation, and HCPSS will follow the guidance of the CDC and Howard County Health Department who will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.