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by A Palo Alto parent, Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 25, 2009
It is something that crossed my mind but I don't think we are at the point to consider that as a viable choice. That is, if the outbreak were more than 8 people and closer in our vicinity I probably would make a quick choice to home school my kids for the rest of the year....Just keep an eye on it, you need to decide for yourself how much of a chance you want to take with your kids. Be careful paranoia happens quickly and you do not want to get your kids wigged out.
My kid isn't getting wigged out--he thinks it's all silly. But the school in NYC that had 8 confirmed cases is closing and disinfecting, and 200 more students who were out with flu symptoms are being tested. It doesn't seem that severe in the US, but it does seem to be spreading fast. I suppose the county will make an advisory if there's any news, though I've lost my faith in local government.
There is no local flu reported yet, but lets assume there was and that it was harsher than flu being reported so far. So far everyone in the US has recovered. What is your strategy to not have other family members interact with non-family members and bringing the flu home?
The swine flu issue is going to last a lot longer than one day. Keeping your kids out of school for 1 day or even 1 week won't help them much. You should teach them standard anti-flu practices like washing hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before eating.
So far, the disease does seem to be treatable with available anti-flu drugs. If you kids start showing normal flu symtoms, then get them tested promptly.
My son, who goes to Paly, pointed out that many of his friends have cold/flu symptoms, probably due to stress and being overtired, but rarely miss school because of pressure from
teachers and parents. I wonder whether any parents will keep their kids with symptoms home now, when they normally don't.
If they have flu symptoms like fever and nausea (not just a runny nose), then they should see a doctor. I hope that parents are educating themselves about this.
This will be tough for our PAUSD high school students who miss too much if they miss school.
Please parents and students, use modern etiquette and cough or sneeze in the sleeve of your arm, not in your hands. The hands spread germs and germs can last on doorknobs and desks for an hour or more.
Here's more information on the flu: Web Link
Internationally respected Minnesota flu experts are urging calm about a new type of influenza-A in the Southwest. Yet they also express concern.
Cases of H1N1 swine flu were first discovered in the U.S. But samples from Mexico are the same strain, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Health officials worry a worldwide outbreak of influenza could occur, like the 1918 pandemic that killed millions.
"A new development like this is of concern. It's a novel virus that humans presumably don't have immunity to," said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.
"This is a very fluid situation which is literally changing by the hour," said Mike Osterholm,director of the infectious diseases center.
The illness could be a "speed bump" in the road and fade away or it could be "the opening punch of the next pandemic," Osterholm said. It will be hard to know which, he said, because the 1918 pandemic began in March and April but faded before returning with a vengeance in July and August. So it could be months before officials know whether the illness has abated.
Poland, though, said that during the 1918 pandemic "there was no mistaking that there were serious cases, and they were infecting young people. This is not presenting that way -- but I buy the idea that something like this can start out relatively mild and change."
Health officials will provide the latest information about the potential for a pandemic, Osterholm said.
"Could this be it? It surely could be," Osterholm said. The new virus contains genetic components from North American pigs, Eurasian pigs, North American birds and humans, Osterholm said, and it has probably been circulating in Mexico for many months.
"It appears to be much more extensive than we thought originally," he said.
"Based on the knowledge that we have right now, I see no cause for alarm other than among us scientists and physicians," Poland said.
But Osterholm suggested people should have medical supplies at hand.
Just off Reuters:
Besser said the CDC has confirmed one case of swine flu in Ohio, two in Kansas and eight in New York. There were already seven confirmed cases in California and two in Texas. Officials emphasized that the U.S. cases are not as severe as the cases that have been identified in Mexico.
Nevertheless, the officials recommended planning for potential U.S. school closures and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the United States would release some of its stockpiles of anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. She also said the United States would declare a public health emergency to start the flow of aid to states and communities that might be affected by the outbreak.
Pres. Obama has just declared a swine flu public health emergency. Cases of swine flu have been confirmed in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, and California. No one has died in the US, but 81 people have died in Mexico.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the outbreak "is of great concern to the White House," and Pres. Obama is receiving regular briefings on the issue. "I would tell people it's certainly not a time to panic," Gibbs told reporters. "If you're sick, stay home, get treatment, go see a doctor."
Please parent, follow the President's advice and keep your kids home if they are sick. See a doctor is you suspect any type of flu. Thank you.
The genetic code showed the virus had originated in Eurasia and could have entered Mexico via Texas or California.
""It has pandemic potential because it is infecting people," said Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, as public health specialists gathered in Geneva for an emergency session on the outbreak.
The new vaccine-resistant strain a previously unseen combination of pig, bird and human viruses is causing panic in Mexico's capital, one of the world's biggest cities and where most of the victims lived.
Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, published an order on Saturday that would give his government extraordinary powers to address a deadly flu epidemic, including isolating those affected by the rare virus, inspecting their homes and ordering the closure of any public events that might result in more infection.
The mayor of Mexico City yesterday cancelled all public events for 10 days and schools, colleges and museums have closed. Alarmed residents are stockpiling food to stay indoors, only stepping outside wearing protective masks handed out by the government or packing bags and leaving the city an exodus that could spread the disease. "Web Link
"Jose Angel Cordova, Mexico's health secretary, said the country has enough Tamiflu to treat one million people only one in 20 people in greater Mexico City alone and that the medicine will be strictly controlled."
The odd thing is that most of the victims have been aged 25 to 45.
Fortunately we have stock piled enough Tamiflu for all our family so we have nothing to worry about.
The ages of the victims are actually exactly what virologists would expect from this kind of virus. You can read about the Spanish Flu pandemic (the same kind of flu basis as this one) and see what to expect.
Tamiflu is useful in the labs for now but the virus seems to be mutating very quickly and will probably develop a resistance to the antivirals that are being used. This is only the first wave; the next wave, probably due next autumn, will be much more serious and dangerous, and will probably be resistant to antivirals.
Another point about Tamiflu: you have to start using it within the first two days of infection for it to have a chance at being effective, and even then it's not a sure thing. Apparently many doctors in Mexico City hospitals who died had started taking it proactively, but it didn't help.
In terms of symptoms, the cases that have been reported about in the US were all described as "mild", with the main common symptom a fever over 100, something a lot of Palo Alto parents and teens would blow off and just keep going.
London Times Headline----Web Link
"Americans told to wear masks as swine flu spreads round globe"
One of the greatest concerns over the new strain of flu is that it is seems to target young, healthy adults
the same group affected by the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918,
which killed up to 100 million people.
In an interesting effect of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic
"Because of the constant threat of bird flu mutating into a human pandemic, many Asian countries use thermo-graphic technology to scan passengers for fever symptoms as they arrive from areas of a suspected outbreak.
Those checks are now being run on passengers arriving from Mexico, California and Texas."
Are we doing this at the border with Mexico or with flights from there?
Of course not, it is not PC
I sincerely hope parents will keep their children that have any flu symptoms will stay home from school. Hopefully the schools teachers and health authorities will enforce this recommendation.
The CDC stated that the virus is highly unpredictable and that it is currently mutating.
According to an official from the CDC on NPR yesterday: the 1918 pandemic flu originally started out a weak virus that did not kill anyone and then it mutated. It picked up horse DNA in Kansas and killed 100 mill people. So they are concerned that this virus contains DNA from pigs, birds, and humans and that it spreads from human to human
2 theories to why young healthy people have died. #1 they have not gotten the flu vaccine which could offer some protection(the body has a harder time fighting the regular flu and the swine flu) And #2 human beings has never come in contact with this virus before and therefore a healthy person mounts a massive immune response against the swine flu...the lung fill up with fluid and the person dies.
Also older people may have been exposed to various type A flu strains in the past.
The fact that it is Sunday has not stopped some from taking this epidemic seriously.
"On Sunday, the government of Hong Kong announced some of the toughest measures yet of any jurisdiction in response to the swine flu outbreak. Officials there urged residents not to travel to Mexico and ordered the immediate detention at a hospital of anyone who arrives with a fever and symptoms of a respiratory illness after traveling in the previous seven days through a city with a laboratory-confirmed outbreak."Web Link
The Hong Kong government will also amend its health regulations in the next couple days to make it mandatory for any health professional to alert the government of any suspected cases of swine flu.
Any traveler who has passed through a city with laboratory-confirmed cases and who arrives in Hong Kong with a fever and respiratory symptoms will be intercepted by officials and sent to a hospital to await testing.
"Until that test is negative, we won't allow him out," he said.
An aide later said that the cut-off for having a fever would be 38 degrees Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and that it would take two or three days to obtain test results.
You would expect the PAUSD to communicate their policy and state of readiness to parents by Sunday at 5PM at the latest or else heads should roll.
Fortunately we have have plenty of Tamuflu, if we did not we would not send our kids to schools that are not alert and prepared, some schools have been closed in NY already to protect children and permit chemical disinfection.
FAIR OAKS, CA - A Fair Oaks school was expected to be closed most of this week while doctors work to determine whether a 7th grade student is infected with swine flu, public health officials confirmed Sunday.
(This is a school near Sacramento. I'm really surprised we've not gotten any word from the school district about school on Monday.
For those of you who are counting on Tamiflu, it's an antiviral that may or may not work, but it's no guarantee.)
It is after 5pm on Sunday and we have not heard from the PAUSD by email or phone regarding the epidemic and what their plan is. This is an outrage and gross incompetence.
The incompetent person or persons in PAUSD should be publicly identified and fired ASAP, this week.
Only one "incompetent person"? Either you haven't been around the Palo Alto schools for very long or you've been lucky. Sorry, this is nothing compared to what I've seen.
I suppose it wouldn't hurt for concerned parents to send emails to the superintendent now, and also leave messages at the district office. It doesn't help about knowing what to do about Monday morning, but at least it will be on the record that we were waiting for information that should have been forthcoming.
The UK FT has an excellent analysis of the epidemic here Web Link
from the FT
Would a pandemic spell global disaster?
Not necessarily. Although everyone knows about the 1918-19 "Spanish flu" pandemic, which killed an estimated 50m people worldwide, the 20th century's other pandemics "Asian flu" in 1957 and "Hong Kong flu" in 1968 were less lethal.
The latter infected hundreds of millions of people but killed an estimated 1m. However even a relatively mild pandemic would place great stress on health systems and slow economic recovery, with the travel and tourism sectors likely to be hit hard.
Can the outbreak be contained?
No, it is too late. Judging by the latest reports, the virus has already been infecting Mexicans for many days and spread to the US and other parts of the world.
Can the infection be treated?
Initial data suggests that the two antivirals designed to fight flu, Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective against the new strain if they are administered soon after symptoms appear.
The PAUSD can't be trusted to make a decision about a math curriculum but you expect it to reissue the alerts that have been coming out all day from the CDC and WHO. There is nothing to do right now except remind our children and their parents to wash their hands frequently. The school district every years reminds us not to send our children to school when they have flu symptoms. Are you only going to pay attention to it now?
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
It has been all fine and dandy for competitive parents to go to work sick and expect our older kids to go to school sick or not-until now. I did not know that teachers have similar expectations.
Policies clearly need to change in homes and to be complied with at schools. We just do not know what to expect from this virus at this time nor the coming fall flu season.
Nice little common sense perspective from New Zealand on this media-induced panic. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, something to be concerned about, but given that hundreds of millions of people get some form of flu every year, and given all the other health scares we have been through in the last 5 years ( SARS etc)..I say take a deep breath and chill out a bit.
Mary Collette - there is a very clear level of disappointment from many teachers when a student is out sick.
Parents and their kids read and here the news such as the NYT headline
"Swine Flu Fears Close Schools in NY, Texas, Calif"Web Link
Europeans have been warned not to travel to the USA or Mexico, yet the PAUSD communicates nothing of their readiness and plans to manage the epidemic when it hits Palo Alto.
The way to stop any kids panic over the epidemic is to provide credible information and evidence based advice.
Sort of like Clarence Thomas saying ( paraphrase) that the way to stop racism is to stop being racist, the way to stop panicking is to stop panicking.
Now then.. for a little rambling aside...how many of you wonder how much of this is a media trump up in order to deflect from the REAL worries of our security and our economy, and the muck-up of both happening now? Sort of like dictators in the Middle East using "the Great Satan" to divert attention from themselves? Just a thought I had while looking at a photo in the Smithsonian magazine of a girl doing the "Mao dance" in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution ( now THERE's Newspeak!!) and reflecting on the similarity to the Obama songs I heard of in our nation during the election season...
WHO is meeting on Tuesday to discuss raising the pandemic danger level to 4 out of 6 (though it sounds to me as if we're at 5, according to their standards), and the CDC will announce travel restrictions to and from Mexico (I betting they'll say no leisure or unnecessary travel).
It's a quickly changing situation, but it would be good to hear some message or notification from the school district.
So far I have not heard any evidence that merits this kind of panic. I think we could reduce panic by just taking keyboards away from some hyperbolic PAonline posters. ;-)
Leave it to Perspective to tryto turn the Swine Flu topic into a venue to bash Obama!!
And naturally leave it to Sharon to try to stir the pot with inflammatory posts
"Europeans have been warned not to travel to the USA or Mexico, yet the PAUSD communicates nothing of their readiness and plans to manage the epidemic when it hits Palo Alto."
Were the Europeans warned by their local school districts? So, the PAUSD is responsible for all medical emergencies that might hit the community as well as all student behavior (either in school or not). No wonder our property taxes are so high!
Amazing what a few lines in a newspaper can make people do! Sad, really.
All Blame, No Shame--you need to understand Sharon and her reason for postings. If you follow these threads, she will make outrageous posts on any and all subjects (last years election, The Middle East, cop shooting in Oakland and on and on) just to push buttons and get people worked up.
The only precaution I would like to see PAUSD take is to ensure that there is soap, hot water and paper towels in all restrooms and classrooms with sinks and teachers remind students to wash their hands before and after eating and using the restroom, plus a couple of boxes of tissues in every classroom. I would happily donate a Costco sized pack of tissue boxes to my school if it is down to money.
Otherwise, teach our kids what they need to know and let us parent our kids.
I agree. I was at Paly for a meeting a couple of months ago, and when I went to use the restroom, not only was there no soap or towels, the water didn't work!
I'm glad we have such empathetic teachers in our schools.
Let's hope they can act as a safeguard and comply with CDC guidelines regarding flu prevention.
Tissue boxes are a great place to harbor virus and bacteria. Individual tissue packets are safer.
PAMF posted some common sense recommendations for our community.
Real Sharon: Hmmm....I see, we aren't allowed to wonder at how a media circus develops, and question why the POTUS and the DHS ( Director of Homeland Security) are even commenting on the Swine Flu, versus, say..the Surgeon General of the USA.
Oh, that's right, we still only have an ACTING Surgeon General because Obama has been too busy running around Europe and South America bashing us to finish filling all the posts...100 days into his job.
Shouldn't we get a Surgeon General and listen to THAT person on what our USA response will be?
Perspective--Hmmm and if only the Surgeon General would be commenting, then you would be bashing Obama for ignoring the potential danger of swine flu.
Your comment "Obama has been too busy running around Europe and South America bashing us " proves my point that you have this sad, pathetic need to bash Obama in every available forum/thread.
Rush Limbaugh would be proud of you.
The Brits are taking this pandemic seriously now that human to human transmission is confirmed.
"UK ministers say the country is well prepared for a possible pandemic, with Johnson telling MPs the country had a stock of 33m courses of anti-flu drugs.
If the situation deteriorates, plans are in place for the government to warn the entire population to set up a support network of friends and relatives so they can be quickly quarantined at home if they are thought to have symptoms.
The friends would collect medicine on their behalf"Web Link
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