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May 04, 2009

What's in a kiss? Swine flu?

-17 When I picked up my 2-year-old daughter at daycare the other day, I watched for a moment as she and another girl grabbed each other in a fun and loving hug. It was adorable to see, especially since she didn't know I was there. I stood and watched, taking in one of those moments when you're just the observer, peeking in on a part of your child's life you're normally not privy to.

Then my daughter planted a big kiss on the mouth of the other little munchkin, and they both laughed wildly.

My first thought: Aww, how cute, my child's making out at daycare.

My second thought: So this is why they get sick all the time!

My afterthought: Good God, does my child have swine flu?!

With all of the scare (and anti-scare) floating around regarding this supposed pre-pandemic, I wonder if some parents are like deers in the headlights as far as how this might affect their kids. I know I kind of am.

Just this week, I saw a bicycle rider rolling down Wilshire Boulevard actually wearing a surgical face mask. I was at a stoplight at the time and looked back at my daughter in her car seat and wondered, do they make baby surgical masks? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if I strolled down Robertson and found an array of designer tyke masks (you know, with monkeys or princesses on them) decorating the window of Kitson Kids. Seriously.

But other than try to capitalize on this moment to create a new fashion statement, I would like to know and then relay what, if anything, we can do to prevent our children from contracting this illness. As of May 2, 160 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., in 21 states including California, New York and Texas, where the single casualty was a child.

Checking on the CDC's website, I found that this virus is incredibly similar to the seasonal flu. Symptoms in children include fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. The site goes on to say, "Young children may not have typical symptoms, but may have difficulty breathing and low activity."

To help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as swine flu, parents should have their kids wash their hands frequently, sneeze into a tissue or the inside of their elbow, stay home if they are sick and, in communities where swine flu has occurred, stay away from places where there might be large groups of people, such as the mall.

All of this seems like standard precautionary measures, including seeking medical help if you suspect your child is sick.

In the meantime, if you walk into daycare and find your child about to pucker up, be prepared to be the grinchy parent. Unless you've got a cute idea for a baby face mask.

This is an original post to LA Moms Blog. When Laura Clark isn't worrying about swine flu, she's chronicling her adventures with her toddler at L.A. Story.

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