New Flu Strain Could Signal Problems For Schools, Making Commercial Cleaning A Priority

A new influenza virus strain is currently being tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The variant virus could have serious consequences for children younger than ten, according to a recent CDC press release. This has led day care centers and schools in Manhattan and across the country to revisit their cleaning practices. Incorporating preventative measures is the best way to keep children healthy in these environments.

Since last August, the CDC has been tracking up to 12 influenza A (H3N2)v infections. This variant virus features genes from human, swine, and avian strains. The virus was crossed with an influenza A (H1N1) strain. Eleven of the cases involved children under ten years of age and six featured no recent history of swine exposure, indicating that the transmission may have occurred between humans.

A preliminary analysis was conducted to evaluate whether a serum cross reactive body to the virus strain existed based on age. Populations vaccinated with the 2010-2011 trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine were studied, as were those who were not vaccinated. Researchers discovered that children under age ten had little to no cross-reactive antibody to the A (H3N2)v virus. The vaccine had no impact on antibody levels for children under age three, while the antibody was detected in between 20 and 30 percent of subjects older than ten.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended to protect human influenza viruses from circulating. For adults, it may provide limited protection against this new influenza strain. The CDC has developed a vaccine virus for A (H3N2)v and if needed, will use this to create a vaccine for the strain. Compared to previous years, human infections with the virus increased in 2011. However, this may be due to more comprehensive monitoring.

Janitorial services providers for schools and day care centers should regularly clean and sanitize classrooms, restrooms, dining areas, auditoriums, and other locations where children gather. This involves using disinfecting products to clean door handles, faucets, toilets, tables, desks, chairs, and other surfaces. Hard floors should be mopped and carpets should be vacuumed to keep these areas free of germs.

If children are exposed to sick people, they should be examined by a physician even if they are not exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The health care provider will determine whether the youngsters should be tested or treated for influenza. Antiviral influenza drugs are available to treat H3N2v virus infections and seasonal influenza viruses.

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