The flu season has started a month early this year and 47 states have claimed widespread outbreaks. So far, Florida is reporting a mild to moderate outbreak with increases being seen in the number of patients visiting the emergency room. Two children in Florida have died from influenza related causes.
There are simple steps every household should be taking to prevent spreading germs. Although less than 45% of parents vaccinate their children, the flu vaccine remain the best source of prevention. With influenza already claiming the lives of 18 children this season, parents should heavily consider protecting their children with the vaccine.
Hand washing is another form of defense. Parents can encourage the practice by reminding children to soap up every time they enter the home and eat meals. An alternative or supplement to hand washing when time or situations don't permit is hand sanitizer.
Studies have shown that individual hand sanitizers are extremely effective in stopping the spread of H1N1, the seasonal flu. The sanitizers are sold in numerous scents and colors to encourage use. Fun holders clip on to back packs and lunch boxes making them easily accessible throughout the day. Bath and Body Works has a fun collection including animal faces and bedazzled holders.
Parents need to be vigilant as well. High fever, headache, aches and pains, and exhaustion and fatigue are all symptoms of the flu that parents should watch for. If a child is showing these signs, they should visit their pediatrician immediately. There are medications available that if used within 48 hours of the onset of the illness can shorten the duration.