School Districts are aware that many students are absent because of a respiratory illness. Influenza illness is known to be widespread in Oregon and the U.S. right now and it appears that the illnesses might be caused by influenza or “flu.”
What is flu? Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by a virus. It is thought to be spread by droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. It is also possible to spread flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, then touching the mouth, nose or eyes. The average time from coming in contact with the virus and the beginning of symptoms is 2 days; however, can range between 1-4 days. Those with flu can infect others prior to developing symptoms and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
Symptoms: Fever (100 ºF or higher), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, feeling very tired, vomiting or diarrhea. Not everyone that has flu has all of these symptoms.
How serious is it? It’s hard to predict how severe flu illness will be and it can vary from person to person. Certain people are at a higher risk of complication from flu. These include the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, or conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord). Complications of flu can include pneumonia, ear infection, dehydration, and worsening of medical conditions that the person already has.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people at high risk for severe illness from flu take medicine to prevent infection when they may come into contact with flu. If you or your child has any of the health conditions listed above, consider talking with your child’s healthcare provider. He or she can help decide if your child should take medication to protect against influenza. If you think you or your child has the flu, the following will help you and help prevent others from getting sick: *Stay at home for 24 hours until after fever has resolved without the aid of fever reducing medicines (such as Advil or Tylenol). *Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when sick. Maintain distance from other people to prevent the spread of illness. *Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also helpful in reducing the spread of the flu. *Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of the elbow. *Wash hands after blowing the nose or coughing into a tissue, and dispose of tissues after use. *Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs. *Get the flu vaccine! The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent seasonal flu.