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Kid's Health (Archive)
Our award-winning Kid's Health Magazine is designed to provide healthful information for your growing child. Please Note: Kid's Health Magazine is no longer being printed. Please visit our blog at http://www.choc.org/blog for the latest articles about your child's health from the experts at CHOC Children's. You can also receive our electronic Kid's Health newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

Bird Flu: What You Need To Know

Concerned about all those news reports you've been hearing Don't panic, advises David J. Lang, M.D., division chief emeritus, PSF Infectious Diseases at CHOC. On a "1 to 6" scale of increasing severity, the World Health Organization has classified the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, or "bird flu" as a "3." *

"We are nowhere near a pandemic "5" or "6,"which would mean efficient, sustained, human-tohuman transmission of the virus," Dr. Lang says. "If that happens, it will be very well publicized. In the meantime, world health officials are continuously monitoring the situation and companies will be working very hard to make a vaccine."

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has attracted worldwide concern because of its spread from infected poultry to humans in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Where this has happened, however, there was very close contact between the individuals and the infected poultry. Dr. Lang points out that in some cases, the poultry was kept inside the household.

Only very rarely does this virus appear to have possibly been transmitted from one person to another. Still, officials are concerned because the virus could change and become more easily transmissible between people.

"As of early September, H5N1 avian influenza had not been found in the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico or South America," Dr. Lang says. In the meantime, he advises parents to stay informed and maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Always wash your hands and teach your children how to do so.
  • Serve your children nutritious food.
  • Get a flu shot and make sure other immunizations are up to date.

HANDWASHING IS ESSENTIAL
Hands spread viruses more effectively than airborne droplets from coughs or sneezes. Teaching young children to wash hands protects them-and you.

Always wash hands after toileting, before eating, and after sneezing or coughing.

  • Wet both hands with warm water.
  • Apply soap and then rub vigorously.
  • Rub the palms, the backs of the hands, in between the fingers, and underneath the fingernails.
  • Keep rubbing vigorously for at least 15 seconds, about as long as it takes to sing the "ABC Song."

*Accurate as of date of publication

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