Schools hit by outbreaks of flu

public healthThere has been a spike in flu viruses in schools across our area, including the swine flu strain.

A recent increase in outbreaks has been reported to Public Health England’s South West Centre which is advising parents to keep their children off school for a week to help stop the spread.

Swine flu, or H1N1, is caused by a relatively new strain of influenza virus A. It was responsible for the flu pandemic in 2009-10.

Mike Wade, deputy director of Health Protection for the South West, has written to schools saying: “When a child is free of the symptoms of a flu-like illness they can return to school. This is usually about one week after the symptoms start. We understand how difficult this can be for parents with work commitments and childcare but this will help reduce on going transmission of the infection.”

He adds that there is normally no reason to close a school during a seasonal outbreak. The letter stresses that simple hygiene kills germs.

“Hand washing is essential. It is really important to encourage children to do this. It is best to supply warm soapy water and paper hand drying facilities. Ensure toilets are stocked with soap and disposable paper towels.”