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Stay Home With H1N1, but Don’t Race to Shut Schools

Last Updated: May 06, 2009.

School students, faculty and staff infected by the H1N1 virus should stay home, but communities need not close schools entirely, according to revised school closure guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- School students, faculty and staff infected by the H1N1 virus should stay home, but communities need not close schools entirely, according to revised school closure guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

The CDC backed off its May 1 recommendation that communities with laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) close school and childcare facilities for up to 14 days depending on the extent and severity of illness. The agency said the earlier guidelines made sense with the appearance of a previously unknown influenza virus, at least until scientists learned more about its transmission and severity.

The new CDC announcement said that H1N1 now appears similar to seasonal flu viruses and does not pose inordinate risk. The CDC also noted that the school closings are costly and not effective in stemming the further spread of H1N1 when it is already established in a community. The CDC recommended that schools that closed earlier now reopen, at the discretion of local authorities.

"Students, faculty or staff with influenza-like illness (fever with a cough or sore throat) should stay home and not attend school or go into the community except to seek medical care for at least seven days even if symptoms resolve sooner," the CDC now advises.

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