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How can I prevent my children from getting H1N1 flu?

Q: My children are studying in primary school and so far, the school has confirmed 3 positive cases of H1N1 flu. As per most health practitioners, after a positive detection of even 1 H1N1 flu case, a school needs to close for a minimum of 3 days and be fumigated properly to avoid further spread of the infection. But there is no clear information from the school about fumigation. And, they are not ready to shut the school too. I am not sending my children to school since then. But for how long they can avoid school? All children are equally at risk even 10 days further as they are today. What should I do? Please advise.

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A:I understand your worry and concern. However I am not sure I would have advocated closure of the school. I hope you realised that yesterday or the day before there were 185+ new cases of H1N1 detected in one day in Delhi.

The risk is by no means confined to exposure in the school. H1N1 'flu is relatively mild disease in the majority of cases and if treated early is almost always controlled and cured without any problem. Please observe your children (and other family members, servants and staff carefully). It is important that every case of flu like illness reports to a doctor - most cases will be just common cold and / or cough. If the doctor has the slightest suspicion a test should be done and if severe^, treatment should be started even pending the result of the test. If negative, the treatment can be stopped and the H1N1 medication (Oseltamivir) discontinued. Contrary to what some persons stated on TV there is no harm in stopping the drug before the course is completed. I do not advocate every cough and cold getting the drug, but starting the treatment early can save lives when there is a strong suspicion of H1H1 infection. The doctor must decide - not the patient or relatives.

Incidentally fumigation of the premises does no good as far as H1N1 is concerned but it does kill mosquitoes and they are not involved in the spread of this disease. Teach your children and family members to always use a handkerchief over the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and, most important to wash their hands with soap and water every time they come home or get a chance in school / office etc. Hand washing saves one from H1N1 infection.

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