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Experts say not to panic over H1N1 virus

September 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It looks like the H1N1 virus will be widespread this winter, but health officials say that's no reason to panic, instead we should all be focused on methods of prevention.Mary Galvan says it is not easy being a mom of four, and with this year's swine flu scare is about to make it even harder.

"I have four kids and if one gets or if they all get it will be a nightmare at my house," said Mary.

On this morning at Agoura West Valley Pediatrics, two patients are being tested for flu.

"We are seeing cases of influenza now that we normally don't see this time of year. And we're being told by the CDC that it's all H1N1," said pediatrician Dr. Christopher Tolcher.

Dr. Tolcher says the peak contagious period is the first three to five days of illness when a child usually has a fever. That's why parents are urged to keep their kids home until the fever subsides.

"I heard that if they are 24 hours fever free then they're are fine to go back to school, but I don't know," said Mary.

Mary is correct. The CDC says students can go back to a school a day after the fever goes away, but doctors say that doesn't mean they're no longer contagious and students should still practice caution.

"So if you have contact with mucous even a week after somebody's had a cold you are still somewhat contagious," said Dr. Tolcher.

That's why frequent hand washing and sneezing into your elbow remain important. The other important prevention measure: get your kids vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. The vaccine is slated to be here by mid-October.

"The H1N1 vaccine is being made exactly the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is being made and it should be just as safe," said Dr. Tolcher.

Dr. Tolcher often reassures parents because many are concerned about the vaccine's safety. Mary says she's going to do all she can to keep her family safe even if it's going to take two or three shots.

"I'm not the type of mom that is going to sit there and cry because one of my kids gets a shot. It's better for them," said Mary.

Healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years are encouraged to get the two-dose H1N1 vaccine and the regular flu shot. The H1N1 vaccines are expected to be in short supply at first, but health officials expect to receive weekly shipments of the vaccines after the initial shipment arrives.

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