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Flu Prevention is Part of an Everyday Education for UC’s Youngest Learners

As the flu continues to sweep the nation, prevention efforts become part of an early childhood education at UC.

Date: 1/15/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823

UC ingot  
As we enter into the height of cold and flu season, educators at the University of Cincinnati’s Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center are taking steps to help UC’s youngest learners keep the bug at bay.

UC’s 87-year-old Arlitt Center is one of the oldest and most diverse preschool programs in the United States and was the first Cincinnati preschool staffed by teachers who were specifically trained in early childhood education. The Arlitt Center’s preschool serves children aged 3-to-5 – an age group that can share their toys, their books and of course, the bug.

Arlitt health coordinator Marty Hudson, RN, says the center takes a strong, proactive approach to curbing the spread of such illnesses by encouraging frequent hand washing. “We’re diligent about it. If we see a child wiping his or her nose or putting hands in the mouth, they’re asked to wash their hands.” Children are also encouraged to cough or sneeze into their elbow area, not their hands, which can spread more germs.

Hudson adds that Arlitt’s teachers regularly sanitize classrooms and the staff also educates parents, advising that sick children should remain at home until they’ve been fever free for at least 24 hours. “We emphasize that if a child is ill, the child is not going to benefit from being at preschool,” says Hudson.

The CDC recently reported that the flu season had reached epidemic proportions, with 47 states reporting widespread geographic influenza activity. The CDC also reported that the flu is associated with 20 pediatric deaths nationwide.

Arlitt Center
UC's Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center

The CDC reports that every year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-like complications. In fact, flu causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

As for UC’s college students, University Health Services – which operates two campus health clinics – is offering flu shots for $21. Kenneth Stephens, MD, interim director of University Health Services, adds that the clinics are stocked with tissues and hand sanitizers at the entrances. Patients reporting sneezing, coughing or a sore throat are advised to wear a mask to prevent the spread of illness.

In a Jan. 11 press briefing, CDC Director Tom Frieden predicted that influenza will continue to affect the country for several more weeks.  “As we often say, the only thing predictable about flu is that it's unpredictable,” said Frieden.  “Only time will tell us how long our season will last and how moderate or how severe this season will be in the end. “

University Health Services

Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center

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