Rockwall ISD, Catholic Diocese, say stay home if ill with flu symptoms


By J.J. Smith. In view of the Swine Flu outbreak, the Rockwall ISD and Catholic Diocese of Dallas are asking students and parishioners not to attend school or church if they have any flu-like symptoms - especially fever - they announced yesterday.

The announcements came in light of the Centers for Disease Control warning yesterday that US deaths are expected from Swine Flu, the disease in pigs which sometimes spreads to humans.

There is no vaccine for the disease in pigs caused by the type A influenza virus that normally doesn’t affect humans, so children and adults in Mexico City are wearing face masks and avoiding public places like schools and churches.

But by last week the virus had developed into a new highly infectious strain, a type known as the H1N1 flu virus that can pass person to person. Symptoms are similar to that of the seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, and nausea and can range from mild to deadly.

The current outbreak began recently in Mexico where it has killed at least 150 people. The disease has since spread to the US, Europe and Asia, where hundreds of people have become ill and additional deaths have been reported.

The first Texas death occured yesterday when a toddler from Mexico died in Houston.

According to the Rockwall ISD, the situation is being closely monitored locally, after a Richardson elementary school was closed Monday due to confirmed Swine flu cases.

 RISD Health Coordinator Nancy Smith has been working with city and county officials to coordinate local efforts regarding preparedness if the situation does escalate in Rockwall County. 

In addition, she is working closely with campus nurses to make sure all campus personnel are on alert to recognize symptoms and to make sure precautionary measures are in place.

“Currently, there are no reported cases in the district, and a letter was sent home with all students today giving parents current information regarding the international and local situation, as well as general health tips and what symptoms to look for in their students,” wrote Sheri Fowler, executive director of RISD communications.

In the letter, the following recommendations are offered:

  1. Do not let your child attend school if he/she has symptoms of the flu, particularly fever.
  2. If anyone is home sick with symptoms of the flu, be sure that they receive medical care as you would during a typical flu illness.
  3. Persons diagnosed with swine influenza infections are instructed to stay at home for seven days after the start of the illness and fever is gone.
  4. Wash your hands after being around a sick child, and keep sick children separated from healthy members of the family. Encourage everyone to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.
  5. Please contact the school nurse if you have any questions. For additional information, contact the Centers for Disease Control.

To read the entire letter, see the RISD website.

In a statement posted on the Catholic Diocese of Dallas web site, the Rev. Michael Dugan, the diocese’s director of the Office of Liturgy, wrote:  

“If you are not feeling well, especially during this time of concern, please stay at home and do not risk spreading infection to others.”

Father Dugan added that parishioners who do attend Mass while feeling under the weather should bow or wave during the “passing of the peace,” rather than shake hands with pew neighbors. Those who extend a hand and have it refused should not be offended, given the circumstances, he said.

The Diocese also posted a letter from Bishop Kevin Farrell, who wrote he has encouraged priests to consider suspending the use of wine during communion since it’s offered from a common cup.

Bishop Farrell writes that he asked priests to be sure that all Eucharistic ministers use “proper hygiene” when distributing the bread or host during communion.

Read the entire letter on the Catholic Diocese website.

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