How Prepared Are Schools For Flu Pandemic?

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – How prepared is your child's school for a flu pandemic or bioterrism attack?

Not very prepared, according to Saint Louis University Dr. Terri Rebmann, a nationally known expert on bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.

In her study she found only 48 percent of schools address pandemic preparedness and only 40 percent of schools have updated their plans since the H1N1 pandemic that spread illnesses in more than 214 countries.

When health disasters strike, schools can easily exacerbate the emergency. With so many kids crammed into one place for so many hours of the day, infectious diseases can spread rapidly.

Still, fewer than half of schools around the United States have adequate plans in place to deal with the next pandemic.

To assess school readiness for bioterrorist attacks or flu outbreaks, researchers at SLU Medical Center surveyed about 2,000 nurses in 26 states who worked with kids of all ages, ranging from elementary to high school.

Eighty-five percent of schools had a written disaster plan as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Infection Control. Plans for health emergencies were particularly lacking.