As newspapers and news channels are filled with talk of the swine flu, parents immediately wonder about swine flu protection for kids.
Understanding Swine Flu
Why is this new strain of influenza called "swine flu?" This virus actually contains genes from bird, swine, and human viruses, which means it can infect animals and humans. In most cases, particular strains of influenza only affect one species, but there are exceptions, and the swine flu is one of these. What is alarming about this new strain of influenza is its ability to pass from one person to another by simply becoming airborne (for example through a cough or a sneeze) or through skin-to-skin contact (like holding hands). With the ease of transmission comes the fear of a pandemic, and thus swine flu protection for kids is a prevailing thought in the minds of most parents.
Symptoms of Swine Flu
While of course your initial reaction as a parent is to protect your child from contracting swine flu, you still need to be aware of the symptoms of this strain of influenza. This is particularly important in the event that your child does contract swine flu so that you can get him or her medical help as quickly as possible. Common symptoms of the swine flu include the following:
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Your child may not exhibit every symptom, but if you suspect that he or she has any type of flu, you should contact your doctor immediately. He will probably take samples from your child's throat and send them to the state's public health lab for analysis to get an accurate diagnosis.
Understanding Swine Flu Protection for Kids
Just what does swine flu protection for kids involve? Many of the precautions that you take to keep your children safe are actually common sense preventative measures. The following steps may not keep your child 100 percent safe from contracting swine flu, but then again, they may be just what is needed to keep your child from getting sick.
- Washing hands-This is probably the most important and the simplest step you can take to protect yourself and your child. Help him or her get into the habit of washing hands frequently throughout the day. If you don't have access to water, you can still use alcohol-based cleansers and even baby wipes to clean your child's hands.
- Educate your children-Help them get into the habit of avoiding touching their hands, nose, and eyes to reduce the spread of germs.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact-While of course this doesn't mean you shouldn't hug and kiss your own children, you can refrain from shaking hands, hugging, and kissing others at least until the apparent risk has diminished substantially.
- Stay away from sick people-Just because someone hasn't been officially diagnosed with the swine flu doesn't mean you or your children need to be around them. Swine flu mimics many other strains of influenza, so it's better not to take any chances with your children. If kids are coming down with any type of flu at school, keep your child home for several days until the virus seems to have lost its strength.
- Get the flu vaccine-While obviously the flu vaccine won't protect you or your child from every influenza strain, including the swine flu, it can go a long way toward keeping your child healthy, particularly through the flu season.
- Consider your travel plans-Don't ask for trouble. Once the ban of travel is lifted to certain areas, don't immediately assume you can travel there. For now, take a "wait and see" attitude, and play it safe.
- Educate yourself-The best defense against any health threat is knowledge. Stay up-to-date on any health threats in your area. If there is a swine flu breakout near you, be aware that children can be contagious for as long as 10 to 14 days after the start of the symptoms.
- Be aware-Pay attention to where you take your children, who they play with, and what is going on in your community. If you notice your children around those who appear sick, remove them immediately from the situation, and of course, wash, wash, wash their hands!
Finally, if your child does contract the swine flu, try not to panic. The earlier your child is treated, the quicker he can return to his healthy, happy lifestyle. In many circumstances, cases of swine flu are very mild, and your child may be back to normal in a matter of a couple of weeks.