Guidance For Child Care Centers Regarding H1N1 Flu
In light of the first two confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has provided guidelines for Colorado schools and day-care centers to avoid the spread of the H1N1 virus.
The two confirmed cases involve a woman from Arapahoe County and a man from Douglas County, both of whom are recovering. According to Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, investigations have shown there are no links between the two identified cases and any school or day-care facility.
The state health department provided the following guidelines for schools and day-care centers:
* Watch for the signs and symptoms of H1N1 illness, which are similar to those for seasonal flu: fever greater than 100 F, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache and body aches, fatigue, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.
* If a student comes to school or day care with these symptoms, he or she should be sent home and remain there until 24 hours after the symptoms have resolved.
* Students with mild symptoms should recover at home, and the parents should be given instructions to contact the child’s medical provider if the symptoms worsen or for further advice.
* If a parent or guardian can’t pick up the child right away, the child should be kept away from other students.
* Day-care facilities, schools and/or districts should assess the situation in their own communities and work with their local public health department and the state health department regarding any decisions to close facilities.
* The 2008-09 seasonal flu vaccination does not provide protection from H1N1 influenza.
* Schools and day-care facilities should encourage students to practice prevention strategies such as routine hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding others with respiratory illness and staying home if they’re ill.
Dr. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, emphasized that so far, in the United States, the H1N1 virus is acting like seasonal flu and is a relatively mild disease.
"There’s no reason to get tested if you have a mild illness,” said Calonge. “There’s no reason to have treatment with antiviral drugs if you have a mild case. The drugs reduce the duration of the illness by only a day or two.” Calonge emphasized that testing and treatment with antiviral drugs should be reserved for people who become seriously ill or who have additional serious health problems. “Schools should not require confirmed negative lab tests for re-admittance to school,” he said.