Preventing Influenza & Coronavirus, “Gifts” Kids Don’t Want

So, what is a children’s book site doing posting about coronavirus? Well, the same measures to prevent spread of infection that are outlined in our new book, “A Gift You Don’t Want”, (subtitled: A fun story
and simple lessons for children to avoid germs, the flu and visits to the doctor!) are what we need to practice & teach children to practice to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus that is likely to progress throughout the U.S. and elsewhere to an uncertain extent. Knowledge is power & knowing about the virus & simple measures to prevent its spread can relieve some of the unnecessary fear about it.

The current novel coronavirus we are hearing about is part of a broader family of Coronaviruses that cause respiratory illnesses in humans, ranging from the common cold to rarer & more serious forms such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) or MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

Recent information coming from national & international health agencies, as cases increase, is that the new coronavirus seems to be more like the regular flu in its severity than other recent scares like Ebola or MERS. Though both Influenza & novel coronavirus infections can occasionally be severe or deadly (esp among older people, young children and people with certain chronic conditions), a large percentage of novel coronavirus infections may be so mild as to cause no or just minimal symptoms.

Unlike this years predominant Influenza B strain that is not well-matched with the vaccine and has hit children particularly hard, the new coronavirus seems to be hitting children with a surprisingly low frequency & severity, obviously a good thing since children, with their incautious behaviors are a huge source of spread of respiratory infections. The reason for the lower incidence & severity in children is uncertain and may still be an artifact of the viruses early spread (probably from live animals in a Wujan, China marketplace) & reporting. At this point, the flu likely poses a more imminent threat to most children, & even adults, worldwide than the coronavirus.

The fact that there is no vaccine yet for this Coronavirus and that this year’s flu vaccine is relatively ineffective against the predominant influenza B strain only emphasizes the need to practice & teach simple hygiene measures like handwashing (or alcohol-based sanitizers if soap & water unavailable), coughing into the crook of the elbow if tissue is not available, immediately disposing of used tissue and keeping hands away from eyes, nose & mouth to extent possible, among other measures.

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