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Schools working to prevent illnesses

With last year’s outbreak of the H1N1 flu — what is commonly known as“swine flu” — schools are not taking any chances among their students now that classes have begun.

The Alabama Department of Education issued a screening and precautions algorithm to school health officials that outlines how to treat students, teachers or staff who may have symptoms of the flu.

“What we are doing now is extra cleaning, continuously,” said Demopolis City Schools lead nurse Geraldine Walker. “We are checking the bathrooms daily, washing down doorknobs and desks where the children sit.

“We are also reminding the children to cough in their sleeve and use a tissue and good hand-washing.”

The first step in detecting the flu is to assess the person for common symptoms, which include a fever of 100 degrees or more, cough or sore throat, body aches, headache, runny nose, chills, fatigue, diarrhea or vomiting.

The second step is to check the history of the illness, to see when the symptoms began and to see if the person had recently visited a doctor.

If there is no fever, the student may be given medications, sent home or returned to class.

If there is a fever, then the student is immediately isolated from the rest of the students and given a mask. The student’s parent is then call to pick up the student, and the parent is advised to call in the symptoms to the Marengo County Health Department at 295-4205.

Walker said there had been no cases of H1N1 flu in Marengo County reported to her by the health department. She encouraged parents and students to continue good cleaning habits at home.

“Make sure the students are washing their hands and they are using some kind of disinfectant,” she said. “The kids just need to stay home if they are sick.”

The centers for Disease Control recommend that anyone with flu-like symptoms stay at home for at least 24 hours after they are free from fever of 100 degrees or more without taking fever-reducing medication.

Parents wanting more information should call the schools or Marengo Health Department or go to the Web site www.alsde.edu.