As Ottawa Public Health works with school board representatives in preparation for the busy flu season ahead, a paper published in the journal Science Thursday said that mass inoculations of elementary and high school-aged children — and their parents — would knock out the key breeding grounds for any form of influenza.

Dr. Michael Gardam, head of infections disease control at Ontario’s Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, said the paper focuses on the fact that young kids are the incubators of the virus. The kids in turn infect their parents, who carry the viruses other places, Gardam said.

Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Isra Levy said area school boards will send letters home to parents, instructing them to teach kids handwashing and coughing/sneezing techniques. The letter will also remind parents that the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, can be spread by mouth contact, so drink containers, mouth guards and instrument mouthpieces should not be shared, Levy said.

Despite the precautions, the H1N1 situation in Ottawa is stable, with no new cases reported, said Levy.
Hospitals and city officials are confident they’ll be prepared when flu season hits this fall.

It’s the province’s mandate that hospitals stockpile four weeks of supplies, said hospital emergency planning committee chairman Thomas Hayes.

The city is also taking “appropriate precautions with staff to ensure that they know the protocol with hand hygiene and protective equipment,” said the city’s chief of integrated public safety John Ash. WITH FILES FROM TORSTAR

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