OUR OPINION: Swine flu precautions

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The wait to see how long it would take for the outbreak of swine flu to reach Ascension Parish ended Sunday.

The Office of Public Health said that a 10-year-old boy at Lake Middle School had the H1N1 virus, and was one of seven confirmed cases in Louisiana.

The student went home from school on April 27 and was absent from Lake the remainder of the week.

As of Sunday he was symptom-free at least two days, but he will stay out of school until allowed to return by OPH.

Health officials have not seen necessary to close the school, but are taking precautionary measures on the campus.

Sunday a professional cleaning company with experience in hospital-type cleaning prepared the school for classes Monday morning.

Nurses at the school were alerted to monitor students, and provide the kind of support kids and teachers appreciate in heightened health situations.

The Lake case does not appear to have any link with Mexico, as was the case with the students at Cathedral Carmel School in Lafayette Parish where five cases have been confirmed.

We share everyone’s relief that the young man from Lake Middle is doing well.

We don’t particularly agree with the parents of the many students who were kept from attending school Monday morning.

About 200 students were absent from the school Monday, while on a normal day that number would be 50 to 75 students, according to School Board spokesperson Johnny Balfantz.

A bad weather alert Monday morning may have also influenced some parents in their decision to keep there children home. 

We feel government officials have been on top of the swine flu situation so far, and we would find it hard to believe they would keep Lake School open if there was even a remote chance that students would be exposed to the disease.

Hopefully, by today attendance will be back to normal at Lake. Like school officials, parents and everyone else, we are monitoring  news about H1N1. If the situation in Ascension changes for the worse, certainly we’ll react accordingly.

It is encouraging that national health officials Monday morning were beginning to cautiously express hope the disease may have peaked, though they certainly do not want anyone to put their guard down yet.

It is good to know one of  the best defenses  against this strain of swine flu is a healthy dose of personal hygiene that we should all be practicing regularly, anyway.

For those of us out of practice, here’s the drill:

•Wash your hands regularly.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a Kleenex when sneezing. Don’t forget to properly dispose of the tissue in the trash.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• If you get the flu, stay home and reduce your contact with other people in order to reduce the chances that you will infect someone else.

• When sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread easily by this manner, and no one wants that.