KNOXVILLE (WATE) – With students heading back to school, it doesn’t take an “A” in math to figure out that more kids plus long periods of times equals more germ sharing and increased chances of getting sick.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s Infection Control Director, Darci Hodge, said parents often wonder what can be done to keep kids healthy. While children can be vaccinated against common illnesses, like the flu, Hodge said for other illnesses the best prevention is thorough, frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes and teaching kids to never share food or drinks with others.
The most common illnesses spread through school, according to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, are:
- Pink eye – Which may start from an allergic reaction, viral or bacterial infection. An allergic reaction is not contagious and will usually go away on its own, but, the other two types of pink eye are easily spread by touching something an infected person has touched, coughing or sneezing or even sharing a swimming pool.
- Strep throat – This is a very sore throat accompanied by fever, stomach pain and red, swollen tonsils. It is easily spread through coughing/sneezing, sharing drinks/food, touching something an infected person has touched. Antibiotic treatment needed.
- Stomach virus – This causes vomiting and diarrhea. It can be caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, swimming in contaminated water or passed from person to person on hands
- Head lice – Can be annoying and itchy, but do not cause disease. Easily passed from child-to-child with direct contact. Lice can live on bed linens, clothing, cloth toys, carpets, etc. Eradication requires medicated treatment and a good cleaning of household items.
Hodge said parents should keep children home from school if they have diarrhea or vomiting, a fever, they are lethargic or unable to play or perform tasks as normal or they have a contagious illness.