OBLONG, Ill. (WTHI) - Officials say the immune systems of the young can be weaker and not fully developed. This means they have a harder time fighting-off illness.
So far, there have been 37 pediatric flu deaths in the United States for the 2017-2018 flu season. That's why Kid's Kingdom Daycare Owner and Director Tina Staley has her team on high alert.
The flu has hit both of her child care facilities in Oblong and Newton. Of Oblong's 118 kids, 15% have had the flu. In Newton, 25% of the 58-60 kids have had it.
Staley says it can be hard to catch the disease early in children. She says, "They don't really have an understanding of why they don't feel good. Why their ear hurts, or why they're having trouble breathing. That can just come across as tiredness or crankiness. They don't have those coping abilities to say, 'I don't feel good.'"
Staley adds that workers have been reminding children to cover sneezes and coughs. They even make special trips to wash their hands after it happens. They daycare has also had windows cracked to let in fresh air.
Staley says the facility has required cleaning to do every day. But since it is flu season, workers are taking even greater care when doing so.
She says, "Toys go up in a bucket after it's in a mouth and it does not go back out until it's been sanitized. The evening after all the children leave, sanitizer gets sprayed on all the cribs, cots, flooring mats, shelving units, gates, door knobs. "
Staley says it's important this time of year for parents to have other possible caretakers on standby. It may not be an option for parents to miss work to take care of a sick child. However, the daycare obviously won't let you bring your sick child and risk getting others sick.
Staley adds that employees can’t substitute hand sanitizer for hand washing. Workers are required to wash their hands after they wipe noses, before and after they change a diaper, before and after giving meds, and more.
Staley says, "It’s hard, and I’m not going to say that we catch every single bit of it, but we really try on an ongoing basis. Because, you know, you want to cut down. You don't want the kids sick, and you also want to help those families not have to try to find and piece together that alternate care."
Health officials say the best way to keep from spreading the flu is the three "C's." They're 'Clean,' 'Cover,' and 'Contain.' make sure you keep your hands clean, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough. If you're sick, stay home.