Respiratory Illness Outbreak Declared At Swan Hills School

Parents of Swan Hills School students received a notice on Thursday, Nov. 9, informing them that the Communicable Disease Control Outbreak Team with Alberta Health Services (AHS) has declared a respiratory illness outbreak at the school. Specific illnesses were not identified.

According to this notice, many students have been sick with respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss or altered sense of smell/taste, runny nose or nasal congestion, and fever. Students may also experience significant and usual fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

As respiratory illnesses can easily be spread from one person to another, it is recommended that:

· Students stay home when they are sick.

· Hand hygiene be performed frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

· Students practice respiratory hygiene by coughing or sneezing into their sleeves, covering their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and ensuring that used tissues are thrown away immediately after use.

· Frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, light switches, bathroom taps, etc.) be cleaned often.

· As immunization is an important public health measure, all families, children, and staff are encouraged to complete routine immunizations and those for COVID-19 and influenza.

· While testing is not routinely recommended, your healthcare provider may recommend doing so.

It is advised that students who are ill with respiratory symptoms should stay away from school until their symptoms have improved and have been clear of fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication), providing that they feel well enough to resume normal activities. Those who have been tested for COVID-19 can visit albertahealthservices.ca/topics/page17239.aspx for further information on isolation recommendations.

Parents are advised to contact Health LINK Alberta at 811 if they have further questions.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette