IND Nurse Mary Rizzi-Ayd breaks down the difference between a cold, flu and coronavirus.
Prior to Christmas break I shared an email message with our student body stressing the importance of hand washing in the prevention and spread of infection. At the time, there was an outbreak of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in a local area high school. I have included from my original email message a related link and PDF on handwashing. I feel this same information is applicable for the prevention & spread of illness during our current cold & flu season. (Information on both the 2019-nCov and the Influenza/Flu Vaccine have also been included.)
The Pertussis virus has taken a back seat to the newly identified 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov). In some regards, the flu virus has also taken a backseat to 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This may in part be attributed to a familiarity the public, at large, has with the flu virus. This familiarity can lead the public into a false sense of thinking that the flu virus is “under control.” This thought evokes less panic as compared with a new virus, like 2019-nCov, where less information is known thus evoking a greater sense of panic.
The CDC and local health departments are trending the information on the newest outbreaks of the 2019-nConv, and they are constantly updating information when known and have established screening measures for those at risk for contracting 2019-nCov. As of 1/31/2020 the CDC reports that in the United States six people have tested positive(+) to the 2019-nConv, 114 people have tested negative(-) to the virus and there are 121 pending test results for a total of 241 people tested. In contrast, according to the CDC more than 19 million people in the United States have contracted the flu virus resulting in 180 thousand hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths. Of those 10,000 reported deaths, 68 have been children. Deaths associated with the flu have been the result of secondary infections. These infections are difficult to fight on an already weakened immune system. The prevalence of flu and the complications therefore cannot be underestimated!
The measures taken to protect and prevent the spread of common cold and flu be taken in the prevention and protection of 2019-nCov. These measures include:
- Proper hand hygiene (washing hands thoroughly and the use of hand sanitizer if soap is not available
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when ill
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue (or your arm if a tissue isn’t available at that moment). Throw any tissues away once used to cover cough or sneeze
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.
I cannot stress enough the measures outlined above. The most difficult one for most being #4—staying home! I often hear students say that the number one reason they report to school (when feeling ill) is to take a test, quiz or to hand in a project. Please, when in doubt, stay home for the day and rest! One day will not set anyone so far back that they cannot make up the work. In fact, resting that one day may prevent further absence due to illness. Staying home when ill also helps fellow classmates and their instructors!! I am now beginning to receive telephone calls from families confirming a positive diagnosis of either Flu Type A or Type B amongst our students.
I would ask parents and guardians to kindly follow the rules outlined in the student handbook for reporting an absence. In brief, kindly call the health room to report an absence. You may call and/or leave a message on my voicemail at any hour of the day – esp if the decision is made after school hours. I listen to my messages every morning when I arrive. I understand many families have an early start to their day and parents/guardians can easily forget to call once at work so please call as early in the morning (or as late in the evening) as you wish. I will hear your message on my voicemail!
If a student has tested positive for the flu, please let me know! Also, it is helpful to know which type of flu a student has tested for--Type A or B. If a student is ill and you suspect flu, please do not report that the student has the flu unless tested positive by a healthcare provider. It is not unusual for parents/guardians to use this term in a generic sense when reporting an absence without first being tested. It is important to know if someone truly tests (+) for flu.
- Nurse Mary
410-522-7800 ext. 214
It cannot be stated enough that proper hand washing 💦 the covering our cough 😷 and/or sneeze 🤧 helps to tremendously decrease the spread illnesses…esp COLD and FLU!!!😫🤒 Thank you for taking the time to review the information in this message. I hope this information is helpful and allows us to take pause and refer back to this information & action towards the prevention of illness during this cold and flu season. I wish you all health and happiness! Please feel free to contact me via phone or email should you have any questions.