Illnesses: A Parent's Guide

What Is The Flu?

Heart with HeartbeatInfluenza, or flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a variety of flu viruses. The "flu" is a common catch-all term used for a variety of illnesses, but it correctly applies only to the upper respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus. Estimates are that between 15% and 40% of the population will develop illness from influenza every year. An average of about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and 114,000 per year have to be admitted to the hospital as a result of influenza infection. Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age.

More outbreaks have been reported this year than in previous seasons. Nearly all of these outbreaks (94%) have been reported in facilities serving people who are at risk for complications from influenza infection (young children and adults aged 65 years and older). Although teenagers are not within that named age range it is still important for them to heed warnings for possible flu, and even cold, strains in and around schools and communities. SOURCE

How Serious Is The Flu?

Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long-term health conditions, including asthma (even mild or controlled), neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), kidney, liver, and metabolic disorders, and weakened immune systems due to disease or medication. Children with these conditions and children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy can have severe illness from the flu. SOURCE

Can The Flu Spread To Others?

People with the flu may be able to infect others by shedding virus from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. However, children and people with weakened immune systems can shed virus for longer, and may be still contagious past 5 to 7 days of flu illness, especially if they still have symptoms.

What Can I Do If My Child Gets Sick?

Medical KitTalk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child’s illness. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. If your child is 5 years and older and does not have other health problems and gets flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed. If your child is at high risk for flu complications, call your doctor or take them to the doctor right away if they develop flu-like symptoms.

Is There A Medicine To Treat The Flu?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that can be used to treat and prevent influenza illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner. Antivirals can mean the difference between having milder illness instead of very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections. They work best when started during the first 2 days of illness. It’s very important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat the flu in people who are very sick (for example, people who are in the hospital) or who are at high risk of having serious flu complications. Other people with flu illness may also benefit from taking antiviral drugs. These drugs can evne be given to children and pregnant women.

State influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) Activity in Florida in January 2018: 

2017 Week 50 Flu Review Maps

How Does The Flu Spread?

Person coughingMost experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose. SOURCE

How Serious Is The Flu?

Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long-term health conditions, including asthma (even mild or controlled), neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), kidney, liver, and metabolic disorders, and weakened immune systems due to disease or medication. Children with these conditions and children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy can have severe illness from the flu.

What If My Child Seems Very Sick?

Doctor IconEven previously healthy children can get very sick from the flu. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids. If your child does not have other health problems and gets flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not going to the bathroom or not making as much urine as they normally do
  • Severe or persistent vomiting **consult a doctor if this is serious**
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes,or asthma) and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.

When Can My Child Go Back To School After Having The Flu?

Keep your child home from school, including any day care or even camp or after-school functions for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. (This means that the fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher.

Help Reduce The Spread

As a community we can help to decrease the spread of the Flu Virus. Custodial staff at the schools have been diligent with cleaning desktops, dorrhandles, drinking fountains, cafeteria areas, clinics and more! Parents are asked to pick their child up from school if students exhibits any signs of illness or malaise. Communication of school absences and illnesses are provided to the Department of Health. Working as a team can help to keep sickness away from the classroom.