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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 27, 2009

Heather Howard
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160


 
DHSS Asks School, Child Care Centers to be on Watch For Increased Influenza Activity


 

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has sent a health alert to New Jersey schools and child care settings asking them to be on increased watch for influenza-like cases in the upcoming weeks.

 

The health advisory is one of the state’s increased monitoring actions in response to the recent cases of swine flu that have been identified in the United States and Mexico. As of today, there are no cases in New Jersey.

 

“As a readiness measure, we have reached out to schools and all child care facilities to ask them to be on the lookout for children exhibiting signs of influenza,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “We are asking these facilities to send children home if they are showing signs of respiratory illness and fever. We are also reminding them to report suspected cases of swine influenza or outbreaks of any influenza-like illness to their local health department.”

 

“We are working closely with the Department of Health and Senior Services to ensure that all school districts remain up to date and well informed.  School district officials should maintain close contact with their local health departments and pass on preventive information to families,’’ said Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy.

 

The Department is recommending that sick children remain at home until 24-48 hours after the symptoms end.

 

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, lack of appetite, coughing and fatigue. Some people have also reported having a sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

 

You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork product. There are no special recommendations for anyone who owns a pig or is routinely exposed to pigs.

 

Commissioner Howard also reminds the public that there are precautions that everyone should take to reduce the chance of getting ill:

 

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • See your physician if your illness continues.

 

“The Department is continuing to monitor the situations around the country and Mexico and is working very closely with our federal, regional and local health partners,” said Commissioner Howard. “We have plans in place in the event of a more widespread outbreak. The most important thing New Jersey residents can do now is to stay informed and continue to follow those preventive measures.”

 

For more information about swine flu, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu or www.nj.gov/health.

 

 

Editor’s Note: The guidance for schools and child care settings is below.

 

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Information for School and Childcare Settings

April 27, 2009

 

No cases of swine influenza (H1N1), known as swine flu, have been detected in New Jersey as of April 26, 2009. However, this is a rapidly evolving situation.  As more information becomes available and the situation unfolds, guidance is likely to change in the upcoming days and weeks.  It is important for people to stay informed by monitoring information provided by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS).  

 

Guidance for School and Childcare Settings
At this time, New Jersey recommends that schools and childcare settings increase education on respiratory hygiene and monitor attendees for acute febrile respiratory illness.


Staff and children (as developmentally appropriate) should all be taught and asked to follow these steps that prevent the transmission of infections such as influenza: 

§         Cover your coughs and sneezes.

§         Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

§         Wash hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing.

§         Stay home if you’re sick, especially with a fever.

 

School or childcare participants with acute febrile respiratory illness, regardless of travel history, should be sent home according to facilities-established procedures with instructions to stay at home until 24-48 hours after their symptoms resolve.  Instructions should be given to seek medical care with worsening of symptoms.  At this time, exclusion is not recommended for school or childcare participants who have recently traveled to an affected area and who do not have symptoms. 

 

Disease Reporting and Consultation

To report suspected cases of swine influenza or outbreaks of influenza like illness, please contact the local health department in the jurisdiction in which the school is located. 

We are interested in testing individuals presenting with influenza-like illness (fever, cough, sore throat), mild respiratory illness (nasal congestion, rhinorrhea) with or without fever, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia, headache, chills, fatigue, dyspnea and conjunctivitis.

 

Has had at least one potential exposure within 10 days of symptom onset as listed below:

A.)  History of travel to an area where swine influenza H1N1 documented in animals and/or humans (see http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm ); OR

B.)   Close contact (within 6 feet) to an ill patient who was confirmed or suspected to have swine influenza; OR

C.)  Close contact (within 6 feet) to an ill patient who has traveled to one of the areas above; OR

D.)  Recent exposure to pigs; OR

E.)   Works with live influenza virus in a laboratory.

 

 

For More Information :

 

U.S. CDC Swine Influenza Website: 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/

 

Infection control and treatment guidance: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/recommendations.htmhttp://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/swine-flu-2009.shtml

 

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

http://www.state.nj.us/health/

 

 

School and/or Day Care Specific Resources

 

All you have to do is wash your hands Podcast:  This Podcast teaches children how and when to wash their hands properly. 

http://www2a.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=11072

 

Downloadable Flu Prevention Materials for Schools/Day Cares:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/

Preventing the Spread of Influenza (the Flu) in Child Care Settings: Guidance for Administrators, Care Providers, and Other Staff: Flu recommendations for schools and child care providers http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/childcaresettings.htm

Protecting Against the Flu: Advice for Caregivers of Children Less Than 6 Months Old: Research has shown that children less than 5 years of age are at high risk of serious flu-related complications. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/infantcare.htm

Stopping Germs at Home, Work and School: Fact Sheet http://www.cdc.gov/germstopper/home_work_school.htm

Ounce of Prevention: Tips and streaming video for parents and children about the steps and benefits of effective hand washing http://www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention/

Clean Hands Saves Lives: Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. http://www.cdc.gov/cleanhands/

Hand washing to reduce Disease: Recommendations to Reduce Disease Transmission from Animals in Public Settings http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5605a4.htm

BAM! Body and Mind. Teacher's Corner: In this activity, students will conduct an experiment on washing their hands. They will learn that "clean" hands may not be so clean after all and the critical importance of washing their hands as a way to prevent the spread of disease. http://www.bam.gov/teachers/epidemiology_hand_wash.html

CDC TV - Put Your Hands Together: (Video) Scientists estimate that people are not washing their hands often or well enough and may transmit up to 80% of all infections by their hands. http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/HandsTogether/

Cover your Cough Posters: Stop the Spread of Germs that Make You and Others Sick!  Printable formats of "Cover Your Cough". Posters only available as PDF files. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/covercough.htm

CDC - Be a Germ Stopper: Posters and Materials: For Community and Public Settings Like Schools and Child Care Facilities).  Cover Your Cough also available for health care settings. http://www.cdc.gov/germstopper/materials.htm

"It's a SNAP" Toolkit Program materials to help prevent school absenteeism activities for school administrators, teachers, students and others can do to help stop the spread of germs in schools.
See the hand cleaning section of the "It's a SNAP" site at
www.itsasnap.org/snap/about.asp.

Scrub Club http://www.scrubclub.org/Kids can learn about health and hygiene and become members of the Scrub Club(tm) at www.scrubclub.org. The site features a fun and educational animated Webisode with seven "soaper-heros" who battle nasty villains who represent germs and bacteria. Kids learn the six key steps to proper hand-washing through a webisode, hand-washing song, interactive games, and activities for kids, and educational materials for teachers are also available to download.

 
 
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