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If Your Child is Not Feeling Well

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated. For updated information on the current flu season, see the CDC Seasonal Flu website.

February 17, 2009 1:00 PM ET

  • This template can be customized and used as an announcement via e-mail, Web site, child care or early childhood program newsletter, or other creative ways to reach parents and early childhood program staff.
  • Coordinate efforts with your local health department before distributing this letter or e-mail communication to ensure that all information is timely, relevant, and accurate.

If your child is not feeling well …

  • Watch carefully for signs and symptoms of flu. Some children may not be able to tell you about their symptoms, which can delay your response to their illness. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and tiredness. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, including 2009 H1N1 flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

A fever is a temperature measured by mouth with a thermometer that is equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius).  If you are not able to measure a temperature, signs and symptoms that may indicate your child has a fever include chills, feeling very warm to the touch, having a flushed appearance, or sweating.

  • Watch for emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention. These warning signs include one or more of the following:
    • fast breathing, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or no longer breathing;
    • bluish, purplish, or gray skin color especially around the lips and the inside of the mouth, or around the nails;
    • not drinking enough fluids, refusing to drink;
    • not urinating, decreased number of wet diapers, or no tears when crying;
    • severe or persistent vomiting;
    • not waking up or not interacting (e.g., unusually quiet and inactive, no interest in playing, no interest in favorite toy);
    • being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, or cannot be consoled;
    • pain or pressure in the chest or stomach;
    • sudden dizziness;
    • confusion; and
    • flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Stay home if you or your child is sick with the flu until at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). Children and teenagers should not be given aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid); this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks) to prevent dehydration. For infants, use electrolyte beverages such as Pedialyte®.
  • Contact your health care provider immediately if a child younger than 5 years of age is sick. This is important because the antiviral medicines used to treat flu work best when started within the first 2 days of getting sick. Your health care provider will tell you what special care is needed for your child. 

To protect other family members …

  • Get your family vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu according to CDC recommendations.
  • Have your child cough and sneeze into a tissue or into his or her elbow or shoulder if a tissue is not available. Make sure your child throws tissues away right after use.
  • Make sure your child’s hands are washed often, and especially after coughing or sneezing. Help your younger child wash them for 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Clean surfaces and objects that your child frequently touches with his or her hands, mouth, or body fluids. Wipe these surfaces with a household disinfectant that is usually used, following the directions on the product label. Additional disinfection of these surfaces beyond routine cleaning is not recommended.
  • Keep your sick child in a separate room (a sick room) in the house as much as possible to limit contact with household members who are not sick. Consider designating a single person as the main caregiver for the sick child.

For more information about flu, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.flu.gov.

 
Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
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