Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Your Child Must Stay Home If They Are Sick - Swine Flu Update

As we prepare for winter break here is a brief update on flu activity in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

There has been a decrease in the number of reported H1N1 flu cases over the past few weeks in Washtenaw County. As we monitor flu activity in our schools, we have seen a few schools with 10 – 14% rate of absenteeism due to flu illness. We have not reached the 30% absentee rate that has been seen in other districts across the state. Every week different schools are affected across the district. We have had suspected flu cases in most all of our buildings on a daily basis. Flu cases are monitored on a daily basis, and increased activity is reported to the Washtenaw County Department of Public Health. But while the news is good please know that flu activity in the schools is already higher than what is seen during the peak of many regular flu seasons. Almost all of the flu viruses identified this season so far are 2009 H1N1.

In the past, flu pandemics have been characterized by multiple waves. Scientists and doctors recommend H1N1 vaccination even if flu activity slows, as it could resume later in the season. It is very difficult to predict the severity of this flu pandemic. Timing is also uncertain. We know in past years seasonal flu does not peak in Michigan until January or February, but flu activity has occurred as late as May. So it is not known when flu activity will increase, when it will be most intense, what virus will circulate, or how long the season might last. This year we will have 2 different types of flu to deal with!

We encourage everyone to continue to take these everyday steps to protect your health:

1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way
4. Try to avoid close contact with sick people
5. If you become sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
6. The CDC also recommends getting your seasonal flu shot, as well as the H1N1 shot.

Thank you for helping the Ann Arbor Public School community stay healthy!