As school gets underway in some states, parents are wondering whether or not their children are at risk for swine flu. In recent days, there’s been an increased awareness that there is a possibility of another swine flu outbreak this fall and winter, and parents in particular want to know what they can do to keep their kids and themselves healthy. Many health experts, including those in the government, estimate that up to half the U.S. population could be affected by swine flu.
Swine Flu vs. Regular Flu
Most parents are well aware of the regular flu from seasons past. However, there are some key differences between it and the swine flu. First of all, a regular flu vaccination will not protect against the swine flu. Current flu vaccines do not affect the H1N1 virus that causes the swine flu. Swine flu is spread from person to person through contact and by inhaling airborne germs, much like the regular flu.
Many of the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular flu. Headaches, fever, cough, muscle soreness and congestion are symptoms of swine flu. However, diarrhea and vomiting are usually associated with swine flu more often than with the regular flu. For the most part, swine flu symptoms recede in five to seven days. The main concern with swine flu—and what makes it potentially deadly—is that the body isn’t used to dealing with it.
Children under the age of five are especially vulnerable to the H1N1 virus, as are pregnant women and those with health problems.
Teenagers and senior citizens also have heightened vulnerability to swine flu.
Protecting Your Children Against Swine Flu
The Centers for Disease Control recommend a commonsense approach to protecting yourself from the swine flu: Wash your hands often. There is no need to send children to school in masks. But you should coach them in proper hand-washing procedures, and try to encourage them to avoid physical contact with others. If your children have flu symptoms, you should definitely them home from school.