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eeping the Fly Away: January 18, 2011

The flu season is in full swing. “It’s severe throat. It’s high fever. It’s the worst cold you’ve ever had and intense body aches. Occasionally there’s some vomiting but it’s not one of the hallmarks of the illness so it’s more than just your typical headcold,” warns Angela D’Alessandro, a pediatrician on the medical staff of The Children’s Hospital.

Kids are sometimes the most susceptible. “Usually our advice to parents is: if the child is looking good and drinking and perking up after Tylenol for instance, you know three days is okay to manage things at home and after that we want to see them. With the flu, we have things we can offer you that if started in the first 48 hours, can dramatically change the course of the illness.”

So, what is a parent to do to make sure the rest of the family doesn’t get sick? “If you can, isolate certain people to certain parts of the house who have the flu. But a lot of people have small children and that’s technically difficult so it becomes a challenge.”

Kids, even adults who may feel run down should stay home, too. “The most important thing is if your child has a fever, they shouldn’t be at school,” she says. “They shouldn’t be at daycare. And they should be excluded from those activities until they’re without fever for 24 hours and that really helps prevent spread.”

Make hand-washing a priority whether you are sick or not, especially during this time of year. “It’s so important. It’s SO important. After you sneeze, after you blow your nose, you know, hand-washing.”

Dr. D’Alessandro also advises parents to make sure to keep their kitchens and bathrooms clean. These tend to be high traffic areas and bacteria can linger on surfaces for as long as 8 to 10 hours.