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Flu Information

H1N1 Novel Virus (Swine Flu) Information

St. Francis Area Schools, like other school districts across the state, has continually monitored updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) on the H1N1 Influenza. When it comes to this highly publicized influenza, we know more about it than we did last spring. Because H1N1 acts much like other types of influenza, the symptoms are now referred to as Influenza- Like Illness (ILI). For that reason, you will see future communications referring to H1N1 as ILI or Influenza.

As is the case at other times, we can’t predict what this influenza season will look like. H1N1 is still relatively new and may change; however, guidance from the CDC is similar to the guidance for other types of influenza:

  • Hand washing
  • Properly covering your cough
  • Routine cleaning and sanitation of buildings
  • Staying at home when you are sick
  • Early treatment for individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications

The biggest difference from last spring is that the CDC is now recommending that people with influenza-like illness should stay away from other for at least 24-hours after their fever has diminished. This is a change from their previous stance of 7 days. There also is an emphasis on getting the recommended flu shots as they become available.

Prepare for the flu season now:

  • Plan for child care at home if your child gets sick.
  • Plan to monitor the health of your children when they are sick by checking for fever and other symptoms of influenza-like illnesses every morning before sending them to school. 
  • Children under 5 years of age and children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are at high risk for serious disease from the flu. Talk to your healthcare provider about a plan to protect your children during the flu season.
  • Identify a separate room in the house for the care of sick family members.
For further information regarding H1N1
Common Cold and Influenza

Information regarding the common cold and influenza

Head Lice Information

District Guidelines for Head Lice

Head lice infestations are a common problem for children in child care settings and schools. Anyone can get head lice. These lice guideline were developed to assure that students with head lice attend school.

Head lice are very small (less than 1/8” long, about this size [--]), brownish-colored insects that live on human heads and lay their eggs (nits) close to the scalp. The eggs are tiny (about the size of the eye of a small needle) and gray or white in color. Adult lice move fast and do not like light.

Lice are passed from person to person by direct contact or on shared personal items (combs, hats, pillows, headphones) or by lying on infested furniture, carpeting, or bedding. Lice do not jump or fly. Lice do not spread to or from pets.Head lice do not live longer than 48 hours off the head. They only lay nits on the head. Lice do not spread to or from pets. Symptoms include itching around the scalp and neck. Tiny red blood spots (louse bite marks) on the scalp are also signs.

Head lice can be a nuisance, but they have not been shown to spread disease. Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice. Students noted as having live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school; they can go home at the end of the day, be treated, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun. Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.

  • A routine head check of classrooms is not advised. Head lice screenings programs have not had a significant effect on the incidence of head lice in the school setting over time and have not proven to be cost effective. (NASN position statement 2004)
  • When 1 case of active head lice is identified in a classroom within a 2 week period, a fact sheet on head lice will be sent home with the students in K-5.
  • The LSN will work with the affected families to educate then on treatment and transmission of head lice and attendance at school.

Data does not support school exclusion for nits.

Treatment and Prevention

Check your child(ren) for head lice. If you find lice or eggs, use the information provided below.

Treatment:

  1. Call your school nurse, healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice. Recommended treatment includes using either a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicated (lice killing) product. Use products that contain permethrin, a synthetic insecticide or a pyrethrin-based shampoo.
  2. Follow the product directions carefully (especially the amount of product to use, length of time on the hair, and whether to use on dry or damp hair). Directions will vary, depending on the product used.
  3. Treat a second time (for certain products) 7 to 10 days later to kill any lice that may have hatched after the first treatment.
  4. Allow 24 hours for products to kill lice.
  5. Many alternatives to OTC or prescription head lice control products have been suggested. Although there is little scientific evidence to support these treatments, people often use alternative treatments when the usual treatments haven’t worked, or when there is concern about the toxicity of using head lice control products repeatedly. Some of the treatments being used include mayonnaise, oils (vegetable, olive, mineral, etc.), and petroleum jelly (Vaseline). When applied to the hair, these materials may suffocate and/or make it hard for the lice to move, but do nothing to kill the nits. Some of these products are very difficult to remove from the hair.
  6. Lice treatment products are not 100% effective in killing lice, especially nits. Removing the nits (nit picking) is an essential part of the treatment for controlling the spread of head lice. The nits are glued onto the hair shaft as they are laid, and require effort to remove. To remove the nits use a metal nit comb, cat flea comb, or your fingernails to slide eggs off the hair shafts. Continue checking the head and combing the hair daily for 2 weeks. If all nits within ½” of the scalp are not removed, some may hatch and the child will be infested again. Remember: it takes at least 2 weeks to get rid of lice.
  7. Check all household members for head lice. Treat only household members with head lice, and treat all at the same time.

Control and Prevention:

  1. DO NOT share combs, brushes, other hair grooming items and other hair accessories (barrettes, etc.), towels, bedding, clothing, hats, and headgear, such as personal headphones and sports helmets.
  2. Hang coats, jackets, and caps in individual lockers or on assigned coat hooks.
  3. Check your child’s head frequently throughout the year. If one person in a household, school, etc., has head lice, check others also. Sleepovers are a common setting in which head lice are spread. When your child returns from a sleepover, check the child’s head and launder any bedding that they bring home.
  4. Clean all combs, brushes, other hair grooming items and accessories (barrettes, etc.) by doing one of the following:
    - soaking in the treatment product for 10 minutes
    - cleaning with hot, soapy water
    - boiling for 5 minutes
  5. Vacuum carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and seats in the car(s) thoroughly. Insecticide sprays are not recommended because this will expose household members to unnecessary pesticides.
  6. Wash clothing worn in the last 3 days (e.g., jackets, hats, scarves, pajamas), bedding, and towels in hot (130°F or higher) water and dry in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes before using again. Clothing that cannot be washed or dried, linens, and stuffed toys can be dry cleaned or sealed in plastic bags for 2 weeks.

For more information, contact your health office at your child’s school. It is also important to note that if any of the treatment, prevention and control is not followed, head lice will return.

References:
CDC. (2010). Head lice treatment.
CDC. (2010) Head lice in schools
NASN. (2004). Position Statement: Pediculosis in the School Community
September 2011

Reference: Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department/June 2008

Norovirus Information

Norovirus a highly contagious virus. Norovirus infection causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.

Norovirus illness is often called by other names, such as food poisoning and stomach flu. It is true that noroviruses can cause food poisoning, but other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Norovirus illness in not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

After consulting with the Minnesota Department of Health, Independent School District 15 administration is recommending that any student or staff member who is experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or stomach pain remain home for three days after the last symptom in order to prevent further transmission of this virus.

Staff and parents are asked to contact the licensed school nurse at your building to report your illness.

Pertussis Information

The Anoka County Community Health & Environmental Services Department, Disease Prevention and Control, has issued an urgent public heath alert (August 2012). The entire seven-county metro area, including Anoka County, is currently an epidemic area for pertussis (whooping cough).

In accordance with Anoka County, the following recommendation is communicated to St. Francis Area Schools staff:
All adults, most especially those who work with children, as well as parents, guardians and grandparents, women who are greater than 20 weeks pregnant or receiving postpartum care and infant and toddler caregivers should have a current Tdap. Unvaccinated adults can transmit pertussis without experiencing the same symptoms as children.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a disease that affects the lungs. Pertussis bacteria are spread from person to person through the air. A person with pertussis develops a severe cough that usually lasts four to six weeks or longer. Pertussis can be very serious, especially in children.

Minnesota Department of Health Pertussis Information