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Nurses have a tough job, often dealing with children while listening to the stories of parents and trying to get kids to wake up in the middle of the night. Add a pandemic on top of that, and they suddenly become the storytellers.
Because when outbreaks do happen, many schools will urge that the children stay in their classrooms while teachers disinfect the building. In some areas of North America, children are not allowed to return to school for days.
While these schools act in the best interests of the children, some feel that this should be done without delay. Last week, two nurses, Livern Conaway and Kayla Bagley, organized a Facebook event and called on parents and caregivers to protest on June 26 outside of a Galveston County, Texas, elementary school. The nurses were in response to the nurses’ home being evacuated as a precaution during a seven-day Lassa fever scare.
On their Facebook event page, “Worldwide Nurse Week for Pandemic Nurse Support: Here We Come Galveston HS Alumni,” they wrote, “We are not here to win or lose political battles, (but) do not want your children to return to your schools until the Global Pandemic Nurse Support Nurses have the support to maintain well child bed checks and have a credible plan to educate your children, restore normalcy, provide bathrooms and staff for the community, and assist with distribution of vaccines.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were a total of 54 reported cases of Lassa fever in the United States last year, five people died from the virus, and nine cases were reported in Texas. There have been two new cases reported in Texas since then, meaning that there have been six cases of Lassa fever in Texas this year.
“There are three common infections that bring on the Lassa fever symptoms that include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, confusion, rash, kidney and liver disease, severe bleeding (from the navel), in the form of hemorrhagic fever,” Dr. Nancy Cox of the CDC said.
Cox said that part of the reason for the spread of Lassa fever is the warmer weather we’re in, and that these cases are limited to Texas because they’re in the summertime.
In May, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Lassa fever broke out in Texas again. Dr. Steven Meyer, an infectious disease physician at Texas Medical Center, said there was a large increase in confirmed cases, and there were two documented cases during that time. Meyer added that he thinks there are three confirmed cases still out there.
Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also said there are two epidemics every spring in Texas: in the south and in the north.
Because Texas is such a hot summer place, both Schaffner and Meyer think that the recent spike in cases is connected to the increased temperatures. The Texas Department of State Health Services said that it is working to determine how these Lassa fever cases are connected to each other.
“Although Lassa fever is primarily contracted from rodents, it’s not uncommon for humans to contract Lassa fever from people, be it through contact with animal saliva, whether that be direct contact with a sick person or being bitten by an infected flea,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the CDC recommends that school-age children take anti-diarrheal medications, that their parents bring them to their doctor as soon as they start showing symptoms and that they receive adequate immunizations.
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No group faced more prejudice than teachers during the Feb. 14 teachers’ walkout in West Virginia, a former manufacturing hub that recently laid off thousands of people and had some of the worst pollution in the country. Nearly 3,000 teachers stayed home on Feb. 13, and the next day, thousands of students went on a two-day walkout.
While walking the streets of Raleigh, West Virginia, the next day, CNN’s Tom Foreman encountered parents in red shirts, holding signs urging the teachers to stop. “We are sick of the teachers’ demands. Have you heard of these demands before? You’ll never have to worry about a teacher from Charleston,” one mother said.