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Halloween could pose H1N1 threat

October 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Your kids may be looking forward to trick-or-treating, but could that potentially expose them to the H1N1 virus?She would have been cute in a cat costume, but this Halloween 21-month-old Star Jimenez caught the flu so she's staying home.

"There are a lot of kids out there that are sick and I just don't want her to get worse," said Star's mom, Sonia Jimenez. "So she's probably going to stay home this Halloween."

But that's not what other parents are doing. Pediatrician Martha Rivera says many parents tell her they don't want their kids to miss out on parties or parades.

"Some parents want their children to go to Disneyland," said Dr. Rivera. "I advise them not to do that because if the child's coughing they are going to be coughing on all the other children who aren't sick and it's not fair for everybody."

All it takes is one coughing kid at a Halloween gathering to make everyone sick. Every year the big concern is always tainted candy, but what about candy laced with germs?

"Let's say the person passing out the candy is sick, is not wearing a mask and is coughing all over the candy -- that's a problem," said Dr. Rivera. "The candy now goes to the child, and when the child unwraps the candy, touches his face and puts it in his mouth now he has two or three days before he starts with the symptoms."

Roseita Orahel, 13, just got her seasonal flu shot and she wants to stay well so this year instead of trick-or-treating she's going to pass on the festivities.

"I am going to stay home, watch a movie and eat popcorn," said Orahel.

"Enjoy it at home and do other things," said Dr. Rivera. "Halloween is fun. There are lots of things they do on TV and it's a good year to stay home."

Again, do not leave home if you have a fever. The CDC says wait at least 24 hours until the fever subsides. Many experts say you can still spread the disease if you're coughing. One way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.


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