Schools taking precautions against N1H1 flu

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

 Iberville Parish Public Schools have reinstituted precautions against a potential N1H1 flu outbreak, Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance William Bujol said Monday.

Although some children with flu-like symptoms have been sent home, Bujol said there have been no confirmed cases of N1H1.

World health officials worry the strain, known popularly as “swine flu,” might reach epidemic proportions this fall and winter. Similar fears did not materialize last year.

Bujol said school nurses sent letters home to parents, similar to one sent home during the last school year, asking parents not to let children return to school until they have been free of fever and fever medication for 24 hours.

At the schools, teachers are making sure students wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizers provided in the classrooms.

“We are making sure soap and sanitizers are available for kids in school,” he said. “To my knowledge we have not had any H1N1.”

He said he is concerned the dip in attendance at Crescent Elementary and Junior High School might mean more children are exhibiting flu symptoms. The normally well-attended Crescent had an average attendance last week of 91.6 percent of its student body, Bujol said.

He also was worried that attendance at North Iberville Elementary School had slipped on Monday.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issued a back-to-school advisory citing hygiene tips that might help people avoid the flu.

“We fully expect to see widespread seasonal and H1N1 flu activity, so families should plan for what to do when it happens,” DHH Secretary Alan Levine said. “Fortunately, the prevention and treatment tips for both strains of the flu are the same. With aggressive attention to prevention and treatment, we can help reduce the health impact of flu and minimize unnecessary interruptions in our schools, work places and communities.”

DHH advises people to cover their noses and mouths with tissue when coughing, throw the tissue s away afterward, and wash their hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.

State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry recommends students, parents and teachers get a seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available and to stay home when they are sick or have such symptoms as a fever with a cough or sore throat.

“Because the new N1H1 vaccine won't be available until at least December, it is important for students and school workers, especially young children and their caregivers, to get a seasonal flu shot, to help getting seasonal flu this year,” Dr. Guidry said. “When the new H1N1 vaccine becomes available, people can get that one, too.”