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US schools ill-prepared for influenza pandemic

Category: Infectious Diseases

New findings from Saint Louis University indicate that less than half of American schools have protocols in place for a flu outbreak. Worse yet, only 40 percent attempted to enhance their preparedness in light of the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic that ended 18,000 lives globally.

Influenza can be diagnosed with a lab test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, aches, chills and runny nose. The agency notes that the majority of individuals who catch the H1N1 virus just need to rest at home to avoid spreading the illness, and do not require medical attention. The case may be different for people with who screen positive on a lab test for a pre-existing, ongoing illness such as asthma or heart disease.

"Results from this study indicate that better prepared schools were ones that involved their nurses in the disaster planning committee. The school nurse is the best person in a school district to know about infection control and be able to make recommendations about the best interventions," said research leader Terri Rebmann, associate professor at Saint Louis University's Institute for Biosecurity.

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