Swine Flu and Your Kids
How much should you worry?
In the middle of August I came down with the flu. One day I had a sore throat, the next day a super-stuffy nose and a 102 degree fever. I was stay-at-home sick for only a couple of days, but coughed and blew my nose for weeks. I have no idea who I caught the virus from, and as far as I know I didn’t pass it on to anybody else. The way I figure it, if I was lucky, it was H1N1, and at the cost of a few sunny summer days just maybe I have achieved some immunity for the fall.
This new strain of H1N1 is unusual in persisting at a simmer over the summer. Now everyone’s bracing for the big fall onslaught. Not only do influenza infections rise as the mercury falls, but kids head back to school, where there’s lots of hugging and high-fiving.
So what does a concerned mom need to know about the risks?
As the first school bells ring, the good news is that the flu has not mutated into a more lethal strain as scientists feared it might; and the number of children who have died because of it – fewer than 40 – is not any more than would ordinarily die of the flu each year. (Easy to state as a statistic, but imagine those grieving parents.) The majority of these deaths occurred to children who are 5 or older. Two-thirds are kids who have pre-existing medical issues, particularly neurological conditions.