Thursday, May 21, 2009

Briefing Update: What You Need To Know About H1N1 ("Swine" Flu)

We wanted to make you aware that the New York City Council recently held a briefing to discuss the H1N1 Flu Outbreak (also known as "Swine Flu")

As of earlier this week:
* 3 schools in Queens, New York had closed, in addition to the 10 closed previously.
* 1 school in Brooklyn, New York had closed last week.
- These schools are all being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and are expected to reopen. So far, there has only been one death in New York, that of a Queens assistant principal

On the closing of schools:
* When deciding whether to close a school, a number of factors are looked at-
-Absentee rates
-Amount of students going to see the nurse, showing flu-like symptoms
-Size of school
-Number of children presenting at local hospitals showing flu-like symptoms

FYI about the "swine flu" (and how to keep safe):
* The method of transmission is the same as seasonal flu, so similar precautions should be taken (i.e. cover mouth/nose when coughing and sneezing, practice good personal hygiene).
* The H1N1 strain of flu seems to be very new, meaning that the public has not had a chance to develop an immunity yet (as some have done to seasonal flu).
* As with seasonal flu, the young, sickly, and elderly are at most risk.
* Information for the public will be passed on through 311, City department/government statements and press releases, and letters to schools and school officials.
* There have been no recommendations as yet to close summer camps, as it is hoped that the H1N1 flu rates will drop over the summer months, as is normally the case with strains of flu.
* A child should only see the doctor if as well as flu symptoms they also have a fever (1040F or above) and/or breathing difficulties.

If you are a looking for more information and updates on H1N1 flu, please see the Department for Health and Mental Hygiene website here.

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