Keeping kids and child care centers flu-free

Ask any parent — little kids have a tendency to touch everything in sight. Their hands glide blissfully from doorknob to toy to nose to shoe to dog to mouth. So imagine the biological brew stirred up and shared when dozens of germy toddlers gather together. Ick!

That’s why the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, is such a concern for child care facilities. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under 5 are more vulnerable to the virus.

If you’re a parent, guardian or day care provider, don’t despair. There are steps you can take to reduce the spread of H1N1 and keep kids healthy.

After kids have left child care, they often leave their germs behind. Staff should disinfect as they normally would, according to CDC guidelines , paying special attention to things kids touch or put in their mouths, such as toys and play areas.

The H1N1 virus is likely to spread more quickly at child care facilities because kids share toys and eat meals together. However, before young children even enter a child care center, teachers can do a very quick health check, which helps identify sick children and prevent any infected young ones from spreading the virus.

Very young children have not yet acquired good handwashing skills. Child care workers should monitor children carefully while they wash their hands and distribute hand sanitizer often.

On the home front, parents should not send their children to day care if they have symptoms of flu, which include sore throat, fever, runny nose, and cough. If sick, CDC recommends kids and staff stay at home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medicine.

Follow the tips for keeping your tot and child care facilities flu-free and staying healthy this season will be as easy as learning your ABCs.

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