On Tuesday, December 11, 2012 the Pueblo City-County Health Department announced a middle-aged woman died due to complications from the flu virus. Although they didn't go into specific details the health department did confirm that the woman who died suffered from other health issues. Right now health leaders are especially concerned because the flu bug is hitting much sooner this season and it seems to be hitting harder than it normally does. And when the flu hits early it can be an indicator of a long and potentially bad flu season.
But if your child comes down with the flu, or any other illness for that matter, how can you tell when it's OK to send them back to school? Some signs are easy, like a fever. Some schools require the child's temperature to be below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, others want it to be below 101. Current recommendations are to make sure they have been fever free, without the aid of fever reducing medications, for at least 24 hours before sending them back to school. Likewise, if they are vomiting or have bad diarrhea then it's best to keep them home. This not only lets them recover but helps to prevent the spread of whatever is affecting them to other children.
Besides common flu symptoms, other things could keep your child out of school as well. If they have pinkeye then they typically need to be on eye specific antibiotics for at least 24 hours before they are no longer considered contagious. If they have been diagnosed with strep throat they need to stay home until they've been fever free for 24 hours and have been on antibiotics at least that long. And if your child has a rash, especially one that is continuing to spread or that has any type of discharge, they should be evaluated by their doctor before returning to school. This will make sure they aren't suffering from rashes like those associated with chicken pox or impetigo since these illness are highly contagious. An overall rule of thumb to remember is that if your child is too sick to participate in classroom activities then it's best to keep them at home where they can get plenty of fluids, rest and love. This will help make sure the flu, and other contagious illnesses as well, don't keep spreading throughout the school.
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