Guidance to Help Reduce the Spread of Seasonal Influenza
The following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides guidance to help reduce the spread of seasonal influenza (flu) among students and staff.
Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu occur every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depend on many factors, including what flu viruses are spreading, how well the flu vaccine is matched to the flu viruses that are causing illness, and the number of people who are susceptible to the circulating flu viruses. The timing of flu can vary from season to season. In the United States, seasonal flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February, but flu viruses can cause illness from early October to late May. In 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus (called 2009 H1N1) spread worldwide, causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years.
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughs and sneezes of infected individuals. People may also become infected by touching something with flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Symptoms and Emergency Warning Signs
The symptoms of flu can include:
- Fever (although not everyone with flu has a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
Emergency warning signs that indicate a person should get medical care right away include:
In young children:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- 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
- Fever with rash
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Below are recommendations to help reduce the spread of flu in schools.
- Encourage students, parents, and staff to take the time to get a yearly flu vaccine.
- Encourage students, parents, and staff to take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Proper coughing sneezing etiquette—using a tissue or the inside of one's elbow—should be practiced. Frequent hand washing, using soap, should take place for a minimum of 20 seconds each time hands are washed. Dispose of all used tissues and do not touch trash containers.
- Encourage students and staff to stay home when sick. Those who get flu-like symptoms at school should go home and stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine.