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Swine Flu Prevention: Tips for Parents

WebMD talks to pediatricians for answers to common questions parents have about swine flu.

What’s the most important thing parents should do now?

"Follow the usual precautions. Start thinking about what you would do if the child’s school or day care center is shut down," Bocchini says. "Think about what arrangements you would make to be able to stay home with children. That may mean you need to stock up on supplies, food, and make arrangements for child care. Parents should start thinking about this now."

What advice do you have for parents with children in school?

"We know that right now we don’t have to close schools and stop movies and do other things to prevent infection except in those areas where cases have been reported. Based on finding of the virus in a certain areas, authorities may close day care centers and public events. But parents should not take children out of day care or school unless the public health authorities have recommended such a step," he says.

In situations like this, sometimes mass hysteria sets in and people overreact. What can be done about this?

"Just be aware of what’s going on in your area. You are always going to get some people who will become hysterical, withdraw their kids from school," Bocchini says. "But that is not necessary at this point. Follow recommendations of public health authorities. This is where leadership is very important. Leaders should let people know that this is serious, but not to overreact, and do what they should do, based on public health recommendations."

What if your child gets sick? What are symptoms of swine flu in children?

"Influenza is very different from the common cold. Classically, with influenza, children have sudden onset of significant fever with respiratory symptoms. High fever, chills. Older children will complain of headache, scratchy sore throat, and muscle aches. Children will develop a nasal congestion and cough."

Is swine flu easier to detect in young children and teens?

"Yes," says Bocchini. "An infant can’t describe his symptoms and may have more nonspecific symptoms. If they have a fever, we want to see them."

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