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There are ways to differentiate whether or not you have a flu or the cold.
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It was a sad day for students in North Bergen as they returned to school following the death of a student from flu-like symptoms, which was announced Monday.

“This is a really rough day,” North Bergen Superintendent George Stolter said Tuesday. “Our sympathies are with the family. I haven’t spoken with the parents at all yet. I wanted to give them the time to grieve yesterday.”

Stolter plans on calling the parents of the victim later in the day and said the district received information that the child had died later in the day on Monday. He declined to give details regarding the student, but parents and school employees told NorthJersey.com and The Record that a five-year-old girl who went to Lincoln School died.

Stolter said district parents were concerned that they had not received information about the girl’s death but noted they did not have any information to give and did so when they had it. Parents received an automated phone call Monday night about the child’s death.

“We had a loss and that was upsetting to all of us,” he said. “Someone lost their child, the fear of the unknown. I’m a parent myself, and you always have those concerns.”

A 4-year-old girl from Ocean County died from flu complications in December, the first reported flu death in New Jersey.

Leonardo Tierra, who brought his friend’s children, a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old, to school said parents are leery about sending their children to school in the wake of the high flu numbers.

“Parents are nervous because I drop off a kid of a family friend and he tells me ‘look what happened,'” Terra said. “They don’t even want to send their kids to school because they’re scared. With the epidemic the way it is, they don’t want to send their kids to school.”

The flu has wreaked havoc through New Jersey. Hudson County alone has had more than 900 cases since Oct. 7, 2017, the start of “flu season.” 

Stolter assured parents that the district is “taking every precaution” to sanitize surfaces and to educate students about sneezing and coughing.

“It’s flu season and it’s an airborne sickness. We’re doing everything that we can,” Stolter said.

The district has taken precautions against the flu, using a bleach solution on the desks for the past few weeks, sanitizing door handles, panic bars, sinks and flush levers for the toilet. 

“We had a message to the parents that if their child is sick to please stay home,” he said.”I know it’s tough for families sometimes to do that but that’s the recommendation that we’re making to everybody.”

The North Bergen Health Department had been offering free flu vaccines to residents in an effort to combat the bad season but is opening it up to residents again.

“Last night the mayor and town council and the board of health alerted me that we’re going to do another round of flu shots because not everybody because not everybody had them from the fall,” Stolter said.

Free flu shots will be available for every child in the district as well as parent and seniors.

Lucia Diaz, whose 11-year-old child attends Lincoln School said she tells them you always wash their hands. Diaz serves as a nurse and has developed a habit of washing her hands completely.

Diaz said the school didn’t necessarily provide a lot of information for worried parents.

“I’ve heard that the child died over the weekend, people didn’t hear about it till yesterday afternoon. If it happened over the weekend, maybe something should have been communicated Monday morning or the weekend or something,” Diaz said.

Like Diaz, Carlos Nunez told his children to be fastidious about washing their hands.

“I don’t know exactly what the events were that led to the unfortunate passing, but it’s just making sure they’re aware,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children 6 months and older get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year. It’s “the single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications,” according to the CDC.

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The following preventive actions are encouraged by the CDC:

  • Stay home when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces or objects at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • According to a CDC preventive action document the flu spreads from person to person through droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. Flu viruses also may spread through touch.

People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick, the CDC says. 

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