Take preventative measures but don’t fear the name was one of the basic messages that came from a Wednesday morning meeting of school officials and community health care providers regarding HINI.
A consensus agreement among the panel was cleanliness, especially through frequent hand washing and sanitation of hard surface areas such as bathrooms, desks, and tables.
Davey Gibson, health coordinator for the Magoffin County School System, assured parents that every precaution was being taken within each of the district’s schools.
“We are working dillegently cleaning contact services and doing our best to sanitize and keep all the schools clean,” he said. “It’s a scary thing to talk about but we want parents to know we are taking precautions.”
Gibson reminded parents of the school system’s in house health care and said that ill children would be better served by a visit to a school nurse where attention would be immediate than a lengthy trip to a doctor’s office where they could be exposed to various illnesses.
“The school system wants parents to know that we have a plan in place to deal with this situation,” he added. “Along with our school health services, our line of communication with our community health providers is the best we’ve ever had.”
The HINI virus became an issue of concern late last year with talks of a pandemic, but the illness commonly referred to as the swine flu isn’t much more than the regular flu, officials said.
According to Tiffany Mills, a medical doctor with Albaree Health Services, HINI is a different strain of the regular flu and can be treated with some of the same regular flu medications. She also said a vaccine for HINI will soon be available.
“There are two types of flu…flu A and flu B,” she explained. “This is a different strain of flu A and those at (Center for Disease Control) the CDC in Atlanta didn’t know exactly what it was in the beginning so they gave it a name and I think that scared people.”
On average, between 30,000 and 40,000 people die annually from the regular flu and very little is ever reported about that, health officials said.
However, HINI is still a bit of a mystery concerning how widespread it may become. There have been no cases reported in Magoffin County and a limited number statewide.
Doctor Mills said flu like symptoms may not be the flu, but added that medical treatment should be sought in cases of temperatures exceeding 101 degrees.
She said that rest and fluids were the best medicine for most flu like viruses and the same treatment for the regular flu is effective for HINI.
Schools superintendent Joe Hunley reiterated Gibson’s promise of diligent in school efforts and added that buses were also being sanitized. Hunley said parents could help by sanitizing hard home surfaces and reminding their children of frequent hand washing.
Bertie Salyer, health department director, chimed in as well, suggesting that students keep a little space between each other to prevent the spread of any and all viruses, saying people could be contagious before showing any viral symptoms.
She also had calming words for parents and the general public.
“We have plans in place. To borrow an old saying ‘we’re on top of it’. We have the latest information and we’re in constant contact with state and federal health officials,” she said.
“We would like the public to know that we are all working together. It’s not like you can be in a canoe with somebody and say ‘you’re side is leaking’ and think everything will be fine for you. “We’re all in this together and we’ll work together to do what has to be done.”