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Epidemics- Swine Flu: When should a parent be worried?

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th October 2009 03:00 AM

WITH the crowding in schools, the spate of the swine flu outbreak could get worse. It will take more than just simple measures to stop the outbreak of the contagious respiratory disease.

WITH the crowding in schools, the spate of the swine flu outbreak could get worse. It will take more than just simple measures to stop the outbreak of the contagious respiratory disease.

By Arthur Baguma

WITH the crowding in schools, the spate of the swine flu outbreak could get worse. It will take more than just simple measures to stop the outbreak of the contagious respiratory disease.

The health ministry has set up rapid response teams in all districts to respond quickly to the outbreak. The ministry has also sent posters to schools with guidelines on how to avoid contracting the disease and treat those infected.

But many still have anxiety over measures to curb the spread. Experts say the measures do not give circumstances under which a school should close in the event of swine flu.
Health experts concur with the concern.

Fears of swine flu (H1N1) led to the closure of more than 700 schools in the US in spring. But the health ministry says there is no reason why any school should close.

Paul Kagwa, the assistant commissioner for health services, says: “The sick should be confined. We are discouraging parents from picking sick children from schools. This will only spread the diseases to other communities,” Kagwa says.

The Government has ordered schools to cancel visitations and inter-school activities to stem the spread of the flu.
Parents The New Vision talked to said the measures will deny them access to children at a time they need to visit them — end of year exams are about to begin.

Kagwa argues that in extreme cases where the number of infected students in a school is high, rather than close, a school should turn one dormitory into a confinement block or confine patients in a sickbay.

People who feel sick should stay home or confined in one place to avoid close contact with others. Avoid crowded places and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

In some parts of the world, there are situations when closure is warranted. The guidelines released by the departments of education and health in the US say school closure would be warranted when children with special needs are the majority and swine flu emerges; when large numbers of students and staff are hit with H1N1; or when parents send sick children to school.

The education minister, Namirembe Bitamazire, says the situation is under control. Schools have been asked to look out for new infections. The health ministry has also asked schools not to send children home when they develop signs of the disease.

Swine flu symptoms are similar to human seasonal flu symptoms and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Detection of swine flu in humans often does not happen and when it does, it is usually by chance through seasonal influenza surveillance.

If symptoms are mild it is unlikely that a connection to swine influenza is found, even if it is there. Unless experts are specifically looking for swine flu, it is rarely detected.

The first patient in Uganda was recorded in July. However, all cases have been treated.

The World Health Organisation classifies it as an unstoppable pandemic, but it is less deadly than regular flu. But researchers are following the virus’ progression and potential mutations.

Epidemics- Swine Flu: When should a parent be worried?

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