Daycares dealing with Swine Flu concerns

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - At Kid Academy in Gulfport, the youngsters understand the importance of learning their ABC's. The popular song lets them know just how long it should take to wash their hands.

"We always make sure that the children wash their hands before and after meals, also before and after they go the restroom, and come inside from playing, and also before they leave," said the Center Director Holly Ford.

Ford said the daycare has had two cases of the regular flu.  The center is taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of viruses, especially the Swine Flu.

In Mississippi, there are more than 700 confirmed cases of the Swine Flu.  One hundred of them are children under the age of five.  Federal health officials say young children face an increased risk of complications from the flu.  Plus, they spend a lot of time together.

"They read the same books. They play with the same toys. They sit in the different centers and play. So it's very important to clean and disinfect all the toys daily," Ford said.

Sleeping mats and cubbies also get wiped down every day.

"We usually take home our mats and blankets at the end of the week so they can get washed," said a teacher.

And caregivers pay close attention to the babies, because they can't express how they feel.

"We do monitor the children.  We make sure that their body temperature is normal," Ford said.  "If not, if it's above 100, we do call the parent, make sure the parents come pick them up immediately to go home."

That's comforting news for Kristie Molsbee.  She puts a lot of trust in the facility to protect her 17-month-old daughter Sienna.

"Because when they're little, they put everything in their mouth," Molsbee said.  "So they've been doing really good at that, make sure that everything is sanitized and cleaned, so they don't get sick. I hope we don't really have to worry about this flu."

The director is also encouraging her employees to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu and the Swine Flu.  And she said if there is an outbreak, the Mississippi Health Department will decide whether the center needs to close.

Nationwide, the CDC reports more than 9,000 hospitalizations and more than 590 deaths since the H1N1 virus emerged in April.

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