Flu prevention for children and adults follow the same meticulous hygiene instruction such as hand washing, how to cough without re-infecting self or others, and in general, sanitation above and beyond common practices. Along with that, yearly immunizations are a must. But there is more when swine flu enters the picture. Caution must be taken when feeding and caring for swine and protective garments and gloves are worn to stop cross contamination. Swine can also become infected with human viruses. They share many human traits such as intelligence, stubbornness and are always busy turning over rocks and soil looking for edibles.
This article mainly concerns children who live in and around farms or other places where pigs are also raised. Maybe even the family houses a pot belly pig, known for its loving nature. But also we are dealing with how to teach all children to be loving and kind to animals but to be cautious. This takes in sick birds – and downed birds and bird nests after strong winds – and why they should never touch them but leave them where they are and report them to parents who can alert health authorities. (Avian flu is much more dangerous than swine flu and too, no vaccine has yet been concocted against it.)
All children of course naturally interact with animals at petting zoos and in parks and even in their own homes as pets. Teaching them how to properly care for these living inhabitants by keeping their cages and all items associated with them clean and germ free is, in effect, teaching them about how to interact with all animals. Make them understand that all living things are subject to diseases. This makes hand washing before touching them, when touching is absolutely necessary, as important as hand washing afterwards. Neither they nor their pets should get sick because of negligence.
When the above advice is routinely followed, further teaching them during a swine flu outburst will be easier. Kindergarten age children and above will already be knowledgeable about certain aspects of how to prevent cross infections between humans and animals as well as humans to humans. As one example, they will not want to sneeze on their pet hamster for fear of infecting them with the flu; they will not want to eat their dinner without first washing their hands if they have been touching them. Three or four year old children will understand if told that sneezing is the body’s means of getting rid of dust, germs or other particles that possibly could cause them to get sick.
How to care for pets during swine flu episodes? Certainly pets need individual attention during illnesses. They get flu too. Simply because it is less well known is no reason to believe they are immune from human illnesses. If at all possible isolate pets. Keep them confined to their own locations and have those coming in contact with them wear protective clothing or gloves. This is especially important if the pet happens to be a pet pig. A pig is a pig is a pig. And they could possibly become a hand pewter dish or mixing pot between human virus strains and swine flu virus strains which would further the virus’ cause of replication.
Children get infected in the same way adults do but are more prone to flu because they have not lived long enough to build up extra antibodies to certain sub-strains of influenza. Their built in inheritances of past flu encounters they have inherited from their parents and their grandparents all meet together in day care centers and kindergarten and in schools and swaps are common. (At least this is my reasoning as to why flu outbreaks are so common in these settings.)
It’s that as children we want them to protect themselves from infections but at the same time not putting unneeded fear into them over becoming ill. A part of childhood is runny noses and dirty hands and it is from these that immunities are built up. So, therefore teach your children proper hand washing before eating, after using toilets but don’t make fear a part of their life. No matter what you do they are going to have lots of colds and runny noses and fevers and be absent from school. They rebound fast with lots of tender loving care. Whatever you do, you don’t want them to go through life fearing germs and viruses. A healthy respect and good hygiene is a better attitude along with a yearly immunization.