Influenza or better know as the flu is a contagious disease caused by a group of respiratory viruses called influenza viruses. Influenza is spread by direct contact such as sneezing, coughing and kissing and indirect contact such as touching, hand to hand contact, and smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, television remotes, computer keyboards, and telephones. Signs / symptoms include a sudden fever, headache chills, muscle aches and pains, sore throat, cough, decreased energy. Some people may even have nausea and vomiting. There are several ways to help prevent the spread of influenza. The first defense is to be vaccinated for the flu each year. It is to important wash your hands with soap, followed by hand sanitizer, and cover coughs / sneezes. There are medications which, if taken early enough, may help prevent the flu if you have been exposed.
Head lice are small insects that do not get any larger than a sesame seed. They are tan-colored and live on the human scalp. They cannot hop, fly or jump. The adult female lays up to 6 eggs per night. These eggs are called “nits”. The nits are tiny, whitish, or yellowish looking specks that may be mistaken for dandruff. They cannot be brushed, washed or blown off the hair because they are attached with a glue-like substance. These nits will hatch in 7 to 10 days after being laid. Lice do not carry disease. They occur in all socioeconomic groups and are spread by direct contact. Only crawling lice can spread, not nits. It is important not to share your personal items such as; clothing, combs, brushes or hats. When treating head lice there are many over-the-counter products available and it is important to follow all directions on the treatment box. According to the Centers for Disease Control the product recommended for treatments are Rid and Nix. If after using these products you continue to find live lice you should contact you health care provider or your school nurse to receive more information for follow up treatments. It is recommended that you wash you linens and clothes that have been recently worn in hot water and vacuum all carpets, furniture and vehicles.
Fifth Disease is a very common childhood viral illness. It is a rash or skin outbreak to the extremities, sometimes taking up to 14 days to develop symptoms after exposure. Children are most contagious before the rash occurs. It is spread from one child to another through direct contact with discharge from the nose and throat by sneezing and coughing and/or exposure to blood or blood products. It is a moderately contagious disease. It can be controlled by hand washing, sanitizing contaminated items and disposing of tissue containing infectious secretions. Early symptoms of Fifth Disease may include: fever, headache, red eyes, muscle aches, joint pains and a sore throat. The most common symptoms include: a rash that starts on the cheeks and it is bright red. It looks like “slapped cheeks.” The rash will spread to the trunk of the body, arms and legs and can last between two to four days. These symptoms can continue to reappear if the child is exposed to sunlight, hot or cold weather, or has had some kind of trauma to the skin. The symptoms may continue for several days after the rash appears. If a pregnant woman is exposed to Fifth Disease she should notify her health care provider for an appointment.
Chickenpox is a common viral illness. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and most children are now immunized for chickenpox with the varicella vaccine. However, some children can still contract this virus despite immunization. The vaccine is available to children 12 months and older. Children starting school are required to have this immunization. Children who have contracted the chickenpox virus should stay out of school until the rash is crusted over. Hand washing is very important. Chickenpoxes are extremely contagious and can be easily spread. Children become contagious 1 to 2 days before breaking out and remain contagious while un-crusted blisters are present. The rash can consist of several hundred small, itchy fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin. The blisters often appears first on the face, trunk, or scalp and then spread to the other parts of the body. When someone becomes infected with chickenpox, the pox will usually appear 10 to 21 days later. They spread by direct contact, droplets and airborne transmission. Chickenpox can be contracted at any age. This is the same virus that causes herpes zoster and shingles in adults. These symptoms will usually occur before breaking out in the classic pox rash: fever, headache, stomachache and loss of appetite. If there has been a student in a classroom that has been diagnosed with chickenpox and your son/daughter has not had the vaccine you should see your health care provider. If a pregnant woman is exposed to any contagious students with chickenpox they too should see their health care provider.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a form of staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium that has developed resistance to several forms of antibiotics. MRSA has been around for many years; it was first found in the health care setting and has now moved out into the community. Infections can be seen anywhere, but they are mostly see where people are in close contact settings such as schools, day cares, dormitories, military barracks and correctional facilities. In the community most CA-MRSA (community associated) infections are skin infections. They appear as pustules or boils that are often red, swollen, and painful; some will have pus and even drain. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of a visible skin trauma, such as a cut, or some type of an abrasion, on an area of the body covered by hair. Any affected area should be kept covered at all times to prevent the spread of MRSA. Most MRSA skin infections can be effectively treated with the proper antibiotics or drainage of the pustule or boil. MRSA is becoming more commonly seen by health care providers in the community. Preventive measures are the best way to avoid any infection and hand washing in the most important way to prevent the spread of any other illness or disease.
Meningococcal disease, commonly known as meningitis is an infectious disease that causes swelling or inflammation of tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. This can be misdiagnosed as something less serious because early symptoms are similar to those of influenza or other common viral illnesses. This may be caused by a bacterial virus or some type of fungi. Symptoms include loss of appetite nausea, fever, and headache, stiffness of the neck, irritability, confusion or drowsiness and discomfort when looking into a bright light. Meningitis is an emergency condition and requires treatment as soon as possible. Although the disease is rare, it can be prevented through vaccination. Meningococcal disease is spread by air droplets and direct contact with secretions from infected persons, through coughing without covering the mouth and kissing. Preventive measure are the best way to avoid infections and to reduce the risk of contracting the meningococcal disease one should be immunized for the disease, and not share personal items such as food utensils, water bottles and drinking glasses.