As flu season escalates, schools brace for return of students

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - After the death of a 5-year-old boy from complications related to the H1N1 flu, schools are reminding students and teachers about how to prevent the spread of diseases as winter break ends and classes resume.

"They come back into school, sharing air and such," Dr. Patrick Luedtke of Lane Public Health said. "The epidemic picks up."

The Springfield School District is reminding teachers and students to cover their coughs and wash their hands to help slow the spread of disease, said Devon Ashbridge.

Parents can help, too, she said. If a student has a temperature of 100 F, parents should keep their child home 24 hours past when the fever breaks.

Flu season has picked up in Oregon. The death of 5-year-old Ronan Burgess from complications from the H1N1 flu put the human toll in stark relief.

Burgess had received the nasal spray vaccine for the flu, which is approved for people 2 years of age and older.

"Some infections will happen no matter how good our prevention efforts are," Luedtke said.

Still, Luedtke urges everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine, whether the nasal spray or shot.

"As far as we can tell thus far they're all similar in how effective they are," he said.

Children under 8 who have never received the vaccine before should get two doses of the nasal spray, 4 weeks apart, Luedtke said.