Babies and children * Young people

Back to swine flu: schoolyard outbreak?

school and swine flu dont mix Swine flu cases dropped over the summer months, but will schools opening fuel another outbreak?

Things have been looking good with swine flu, with the number of new cases falling over the summer. But the beginning of the new school year is likely to lead to a new spike.

This is because swine flu is caused by a new strain of the H1N1 virus and children have little or no immunity against it. Once infected, children shed the flu virus in greater amounts and for longer than adults. A class of 30 children is the perfect environment for its rapid spread.

The most dramatic drop in new cases happened at the beginning of August, after schools closed for the summer. Before the holidays over 100,000 new cases were reported in a single week. Latest figures suggest about 3,500 new cases a week.

With children returning to school, be prepared for an increase in the number of new cases. We have already seen some evidence of this in Scotland, where schools started back earlier.

The guide below will help you understand the flu virus, how it spreads, how to avoid it and what to do if your child catches it.

This article was published on Fri 11 September 2009


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