Swine flu and me: My own private quarantine

I'm not often faced with ethical dilemmas when picking up the kids, but yesterday I walked into the middle of the swine flu epidemic. When I went to get my older daughter, her teacher met me at the door with a grim look on her face and told me that one of the children had come down with "a flu." No word yet on what kind of flu, but the symptoms are consistent with, of course, the swine flu, and the timing corresponds with the international break-out and with the confirmation of cases in Brooklyn, where we live.

So what to do?

I've been reading about the swine flu, of course. I've been finding out about what to do right here on WalletPop.com -- what to buy, what not to bother with, what it might mean for the economy. But what do I do about sending my children to school or going to work? That part I haven't figured out yet, so as a precaution, we're all staying home until we hear more from the school.

Whatever we've been exposed to, we've been exposed to it already obviously. Regardless of whether this latest illness going around is the dreaded swine flu or not, there's some kind of contagious disease going around our day care center, and even just a mild fever is enough to send our two-working-parent family into an organizational tailspin. But I couldn't deal with the guilt of passing on anything to anyone else. Last week, my daughter came in for Take Your Kids to Work Day, was sick the next day (but not the swine flu...), and on Saturday a colleague who was nice to her got sick. I feel awful about that.

Since I heard about the exposure, I've been thinking about my day yesterday -- riding on the subway, shaking the hand of a job candidate, going to an office party, and even just handling the sink at the office to wash out my mug. Did I pass on this thing unwittingly already?

The bottom line is that children are toxic, and the care of them doesn't meld well with living a life, working or being part of society in general. But what can you do?
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