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Get Smart About Swine Flu for Back-to-School
Date:8/14/2009

," Wilkerson said.

Finally, "if you cough, cough into your arm or use tissues," Beeber stressed.

Children who are sick should be kept home, especially if they're running flu-like symptoms such as high fever, vomiting or diarrhea, Wilkerson said. They should also be kept away from other children. In back-to-school recommendations issued Aug. 7, the CDC advised that schools set aside a room for people developing flu-like symptoms while they wait to go home and that surgical masks be used for ill students or staff and those caring for them.

Any child who has been sick should be fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the aid of medications) before returning to school, Beeber added.

Definitely seek medical care if a child becomes sick, but don't take children with flu-like symptoms to the emergency department, Wilkerson urged. "That's the worst thing. They may not have swine flu but they could get it [there]," she said. Instead of rushing to the emergency department, "people need to call their physicians or call a hotline," Wilkerson said.

Widespread school closures that swept across the United States last spring needn't be repeated this fall, the CDC has said.

"I don't think that we're going to see that panicky reaction," according to Wilkerson.

But the CDC guidelines noted that everything could change if the outbreak suddenly turns severe. In those cases, the agency said, some schools may need to be closed, and certain precautions -- for example, spacing school desks farther apart -- might need to be imposed.

Immunization could also be of great help, the experts noted. Children should be vaccinated for the regular, seasonal flu as soon as a vaccine is available, which hopefully will be earlier than the usual October-November time frame.

Trials involving about 2,800 people are also underway for an H1N1 flu vaccine, with officials hoping to have 160 million doses avail
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