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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Unless you’ve been living under a rock on a moon in another galaxy, you’ve heard about the mania swine flu has been causing lately. Until recently, you may have thought it couldn’t affect you. Think again. David Trump, acting director of the Norfolk Department of Public Health, announced early last week that Norfolk’s first probable case of swine flu showed up at East Beach Montessori School.

The affected child was exposed to an ill family member during a visit to Arizona, and began showing symptoms shortly after returning to Hampton Roads. The child’s school closed for a week in response to a recommendation from the city’s department of public health.

Health officials would give few other details about the case. Trump would not give out information about whether the family had other children, or if and where the parents work. However, he said public health officials have informed people who have close contact with the family about the case. He also said no other schools require closure at this point.

The child did not require hospitalization and is recovering well at home. The child and the family agreed voluntarily to isolate themselves beginning on Wednesday and ending on Sunday, which was when the state announced the case as probable swine flu. The family members were prescribed antiviral medications last week; none of them have become ill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends schools and child care facilities with confirmed cases of swine flu close for up to 14 days because children are likely to be infectious seven to 10 days after the onset of the illness. According to the city health department, children younger than five are “very susceptible” to flu and are more likely to require hospitalization.

The state health department urges people to continue taking precautions to avoid swine flu, such as staying at home if they notice symptoms, covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, and washing hands frequently. As a parent and an attorney, I want you to know there are other things you can do to keep your child safe. If you suspect that your child has been exposed to swine flu, wipe down common surfaces that could be infected with disinfectant wipes or a mild bleach solution. Encourage your child to wash his or her hands often (this will build good habits for life). Be aware of who your child is spending time with – have any of them traveled to Mexico lately? Are they showing flu-like symptoms? By taking just a few extra precautionary measures (like those you probably take during flu season), you can keep your kids safe without succumbing to the media mania over swine flu.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY, who handle car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. CA

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