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Looking Back at a Week of Swine Flu

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

The end of the week is a good time to reflect. As I think about this past week, I think of words like anxiety, concern, questions, uncertainty, hygiene, hand washing, and cough etiquette. The one word that I don’t want to use is panic. Even as we are faced with the possibility of a new virus causing illness and a possible outbreak or even pandemic of flu, there is no reason to panic. Mothers (and a few fathers) were in the office this week, worried and even panicky and anxiety ridden about the possibility of contracting swine flu. They were taking their children’s temperatures three times a day, “just in case” they might have a fever. The smallest cough or runny nose might be the beginning of a life threatening illness? Should they leave the house? Should they have their birthday party, or school event?

One of the hallmarks of flu is fever. In order to tell if your child has a fever, you need to have a thermometer to take their temperature. As good a parent as you are, the only way to truly tell if your “hot” child has a fever is to take the temperature. I am both a mother and a physician and my hand is no better at judging fever, I rely on an old fashioned digital thermometer.

The best way to handle all of the concern about the H1N1 (swine flu) virus is to be vigilant about hand washing, to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and to teach young children the same. If you are sick or have a sick child, do not go to work, or send your child to school or daycare. If you stay home from school or work, don’t take the opportunity to then go shop, or to the movies or go to lunch. Your germs are contagious in all of these situations, so stay home to protect others. The errands can wait.

Enjoy the weekend; go outdoors to the park or playground where germs do not spread as readily. Have some fun family time. Don’t panic and we will all have to see what the next week brings.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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