As another school year starts back up, the Department of Health and Environmental Control is cautioning parents to be on the look-out for the H1N1 virus.
“Be on the look-out for the possible signs of influenza, like the fever, the body aches, that type of thing, and if your child has influenza, please, keep him or her home from school. The child needs to stay home until the fever has subsided. No more fever for 24 hours without any kind of medication like aspirin, Tylenol, that type of thing,” says Beasley.
DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley says since the initial outbreak in April of the H1N1 virus, formerly known as swine flu, DHEC has been working with the state Department of Education and the regional offices have been working with local superintendents. Here’s why: “Just to determine whether or not there are any special procedures we need to be aware of in regard to potential of school closing. Now, we intend to use school closings as very, very cautiously, and probably very rarely as well. Latest guidance from the CDC and HHS indicate that school closure is not really the first step that we need to look at,” says Beasley.
Beasley says they hope to tackle the virus before it spreads in schools with some extra precautions this school year.
“We at DHEC continue to provide guidance not only to school nurses, but also to school administrators on how to handle cases when children are identified as carrying the H1N1 or other influenza viruses. There’s something called a school exclusion list which parents should be receiving at the beginning of the school year that explains some of those conditions or symptoms that their children may experience that warrant staying home from school,” says Beasley.
Beasley says the H1N1 virus is still very present in South Carolina. On July 31, DHEC reported 491 confirmed cases in the state, with 32 new cases, making a total of 523. That number has since climbed. Richland County reported the most cases.