Closing Schools Due To Flu Not Recommend

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In the past two weeks, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has seen sporadic cases and outbreak clusters of H1N1 throughout the state, including in schools. At this time in the pandemic due to the mildness of H1N1 overall, both the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and HEALTH do not recommend closing schools to prevent the spread of disease. If a school’s absenteeism rate among students and staff prohibits a school from functioning effectively, school districts may consider closure as an option.

“Because we are not recommending closure of schools to prevent the spread of disease,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH “a decision to close is up to the individual school district. School districts should keep in mind that unplanned closures are very disruptive to the community, and should be used as a last resort. Sporadic cases of swine flu continue to increase in the community at large, therefore minimizing the effect of closing schools on the spread of illness.”

Prevention continues to be the best option to help stop the spread of H1N1 or any other illness.

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· Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gels.

· Cough and sneeze into your elbow.

· Anyone who is sick with an Influenza-like illness (ILI) (fever plus cough or sore throat) stay home for 7 days after symptoms begin or until symptoms have stopped for 24 hours, whichever is longer.

· Call your physician if you would normally do so. Current recommendations for antiviral treatment are not recommended for mild cases without underlying diseases.

· If you are sick and would normally call the doctor, call the doctor. If your illness can be managed with fluids and rest, you do not automatically have to go to the doctor or to the ER.

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