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How the Grand Rapids Children's Museum fights the spread of the flu

8:04 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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The bubble tower at the Grand Rapids Childrens Museum.

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Local schools, businesses and other public places are taking steps to prevent the spread of the flu to children.

The Kent County Health Department is reporting a large increase in the number of flu cases.  The period between September and December 2012 had 242 reported cases, up from six in the same time period last year.

On Thursday, WZZM 13 visited the Grand Rapids Children's Museum to see how workers there fight the spread of the flu.

Those workers clean and disinfect, fill hand sanitizer dispensers and encourage hand washing -- not just during flu season, but year-round.  They say children can get sick any time of the year, so they maintain high standards of cleanliness all the time. 

Part of the reason for the diligence of museum employees is the facility itself, where children cannot enjoy the museum without touching things.

"Absolutely everything in here is hands on, so you are encouraged actually to touch everything here," says Adrienne Brown, the museum's membership and event manager.

Workers say the goal is to keep the museum as germ free as possible.  But parents and caregivers say they cannot expect a sterile environment for their children.

"They are still going to be touching things, so its pretty much impossible to keep it germ free just can't do it," says grandmother Helen Christoff.

Museum employees say their efforts seem to work.

"We can't guarantee you won't catch anything," says Brown.  "Knock on wood, we haven't had anything here or anyone report back to us that they caught the flu at the museum."

"We trust the museum," says nanny Hayley Bishop. "Obviously, we come here all the time never had a problem with it."

The museum has hand sanitizer dispensers in almost every corner of the facility.

"No matter where you are in the building, you have a way to wash your hands instantly," says Brown.

The museum staff also spot cleans frequently, disinfects daily, deep cleans the building and its exhibits once a week. 

Despite these efforts, parents know there are only so many steps that can be taken -- and that no matter what, children will get sick.

"I try not to get to worked up over it," says mom Kendra Decker.  "I've got four children, so it's just going to happen."

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