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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesBriefing Aimed at Protecting Kids From Swine Flu

Briefing Aimed at Protecting Kids From Swine Flu

Child-care workers from all over St. Thomas gathered in Sugar Estate Tuesday night to learn how to protect the territory’s youngest citizens from the H1N1 virus.

The sometimes deadly illness, also known as the swine flu, began in Mexico and has been spreading rapidly worldwide. On June 11, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the virus a Phase 6 worldwide pandemic. A Phase 6 ranking means a global pandemic is under way.

Tuesday’s meeting, held at the Department of Health and Human Services building, is the first of a series of meetings which will be mandatory for local child-care workers. The meeting was for those who worked at local day care facilities, as well as people who may work at local summer day camps.

The department said the recent voluntary closure of a summer camp after a child tested positive for the virus prompted them to get the word out. They also pointed to the fact that summer camps have now opened their doors as schools close theirs for the season.

"Since we had camps that have started, we thought that we should have a session for the prevention of H1N1," said Audria Thomas, territory medical director for the Virgin Islands Department of Health. She said there were representatives from 71 day care facilities in attendance.

Thomas explained to those gathered that they should be especially observant of young children who may appear ill. She said a fever of 100.4 degrees is a good indicator that the child may be suffering from the virus.

She also explained the way simple hygiene can prevent the spread of all germs — not just H1N1. She told attendees that they should try to get their charges to wash their hands thoroughly for about 30 seconds, and dispose of contaminated tissues.

Thomas reminded attendees that flu season, which begins in September, is not far away and encouraged workers to all get flu shots. She said that officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working on a vaccine for the H1N1 flu, which is not yet available for use. But, she said, when it is available, Virgin Islands residents will be able to get it "just like every other state can get it."

She said the best way to prevent the spread of H1N1 is through proper planning and communication.

"The best method of protection for all of us is prevention," she said.

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