Flu season is upon us and because school attendance plays an important role in a student’s overall educational experience and helps students to become more successful in their academics, we want to help families avoid getting sick! If your student becomes ill, it is the responsibility and decision of the parent or guardian whether or not to send them to school. Stay well this winter and hopefully be following these tips you also can avoid the flu this year.
- Wash your hands, and wash them often. Keeping hands clean can go a long way to stopping the spread of illness. This helps to reduce the number of germs spread to the face and the things we touch.
- Cover your cough. By covering your cough, coughing into your elbow, shoulder, or sleeve you can help to reduce the spread of germs. Make sure not to cough into your hand unless you wash them immediately after.
- Get enough rest. A well-rested body can help to fight off oncoming illness. Make sure to get enough sleep each night to help reduce your risk of getting sick.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet to include the proper vitamins and minerals to help prepare your body for fighting off illness.
- Visit a physician when symptoms of an illness worsen. If symptoms are consistent with that of the flu or if symptoms to a common cold worsen, make sure to check in with a doctor in order to receive the proper care.
Notes from the Nurse:
Individual cases of influenza are not required to be reported in Kansas except for abnormal or serious cases. However, effective May 2018 (under Kansas Administrative Regulation 28-1-6), a person with a case of influenza is required to be isolated for seven days following the onset of illness. This regulation is based on the scientific data that shows persons with influenza can be infectious up to seven days following the onset of symptoms and often have a fever lasting at least five days. The recommendation to stay isolated until fever free for 24 hours is comparable to staying home for seven days.
For isolation purposes, a case of influenza is defined as a person who has tested positive for influenza via any testing method and is experiencing symptoms of influenza-like illness (fever of >100°F and a cough and/or sore throat). Persons with influenza who received this year’s influenza vaccine and persons with influenza who receive antiviral treatment are not exempt from isolation requirements; however, local health officers have the authority to alter this requirement based on nationally recognized guidance (e.g., when started promptly, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and duration of symptoms by about one day, vaccinated persons that contract influenza may have milder illness than those who were not vaccinated).
Local health department infectious disease investigators were briefly informed on this regulation update during the regional regulation update training held this past summer and in detail in the September Epi Updates Newsletter (http://www.kdheks.gov/epi/download/newsletter/EpiUpdates_September_2018.pdf). KDHE’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response section hosted a school nurse webinar on October 16 and 18 to inform them of regulation updates and investigation guidance for situations they are likely to experience in a school setting.