October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009- letter from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health:

Now that the fall semester is well under way, we wanted to provide you with an update on the influenza situation here in our school.

As expected, influenza season has started early this year due to the “new” strain of flu which first appeared in our community last spring. This “Novel H1N1” flu did not actually stop circulating during the summer and now that school is back in session, person-to-person spreading of the flu has been facilitated. We have seen a general increase in influenza illness at our school and have had some parent reports of “confirmed” Novel H1N1 flu in students.

According to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH), nearly 100% of the influenza circulating in our community now is the Novel strain. So, if you or your child is diagnosed as having the flu by your health care provider, it is more than likely the Novel flu even without confirmatory lab tests being done. We are treating confirmed cases of Novel flu no differently than non-confirmed cases. If a student has the flu, he/she will be excluded from school until 24hrs fever-free without the benefit of fever reducers such as Tylenol. If a student has symptoms of the flu at school, parents will be contacted to pick their student up.

We are working closely with the MCDPH monitoring the flu situation here at our school. We will continue to keep you informed of significant events regarding our flu situation such as abnormal absenteeism rates in classes, grades or the school as a whole. Please help us to keep our students healthy by following the simple prevention points below.

1.)    Teach your kids good hygiene (we will be doing the same at school): This means teaching them how to cover coughs/sneezes with their elbows, good hand washing habits and to keep their hands away from their face.

2.)    Keep your kids home when they are sick: When a child comes to school sick, he/she can infect classmates at amazing rates. If too many kids are sick at school, we may be required to implement extreme measures such as closing the school, which has a negative effect on all of us.

3.)    Please consider the seasonal flu vaccine and novel vaccine when it is available: We understand that the Novel flu vaccine will be available later this fall, please be alert for news releases on this. The seasonal flu vaccine should be available now, please contact your student’s health care provider and ask about it. The more students (and staff) who are vaccinated , the better chance we have of keeping this virus from jumping from child to child in our school and then bringing it home to your family. If your primary care doctor does not have flu vaccine, contact Community Information and Referral at 602-263-8856 for vaccine locations.