Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Flu~A Guide for Parents

Looks like the Influenza Season may be starting earlier than usual...

What is the flu?

The flu (influenza) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs that is caused by influenza virus. The flu can spread from person to person. Most people with flu are sick for about a week, but then feel better. However, some people (especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems) can get very sick and some can die.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Most people with the flu feel tired and have fever (usually high), headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and sore muscles. Some people, especially children, may also have stomach problems and diarrhea. Cough can last two or more weeks

How does the flu spread?

People that have the flu usually cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose. This makes droplets with virus in them. Other people can get the flu by breathing in these droplets, getting them in their nose or mouth, or touching contaminated surfaces

How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?

Healthy adults may be able to spread the flu from 1 day before getting sick to up to 5 days after getting sick. This can be longer in children and in people who don’t fight disease as well (people with weakened immune systems).

How can I protect my child from the flu?

A flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu. CDC recommends that all children from the ages of 6 months up to their 19th birthday get a flu vaccine every fall or winter (children getting a vaccine for the first time need two doses).
• Flu shots can be given to children 6 months and older.
• A nasal-spray vaccine can be given to healthy children 2 years and older (children under 5 years old who have had wheezing in the past year or any child with chronic health problems should get the flu shot).
• You can protect your child by getting a flu vaccine for yourself too. Also encourage your child’s close contacts to get a flu vaccine. This is very important if your child is younger than 5 or has a chronic health problem like asthma (breathing disease) or diabetes (high blood sugar levels).

Is there medicine to treat the flu?

There are antiviral drugs for children 1 year and older that can make your child feel better and get better sooner. But these drugs need to be approved by a doctor. They should be started during the first 2 days that your child is sick for them to work best. Your doctor can discuss with you if these drugs are right for your child.

How else can I protect my child against flu?

1. Take time to get a flu vaccine and get your child vaccinated too.
2. Take everyday steps to prevent the spread of germs. This includes:

- Clean your hands often and cover your coughs and sneezes
- Tell your child to:
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Clean hands often
- Keep hands away from face
- Cover coughs and sneezes to protect others (it’s best to use a tissue and throw it away).

What should I use for hand cleaning?

Washing hands with soap and water (for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice) will help protect your child from many different germs. When soap and water are not available, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used (the gels should be rubbed into your hands until they are dry).

What can I do if my child gets sick?

Consult your doctor and make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks a lot of fluids. If your child is older than 2 years, you can buy medicine (over-the-counter) without a prescription that might make your child feel better. Be careful with these medicines and follow the instructions on the package. But never give aspirin or medicine that has aspirin in it to children or teenagers who may have the flu.

What if my child seems very sick?

Call or take your child to a doctor right away if your child:

• has a high fever or fever that lasts a long time
• has trouble breathing or breathes fast
• has skin that looks blue
• is not drinking enough
• seems confused, will not wake up, does not want to be held, or has seizures (uncontrolled shaking)
• gets better but then worse again
• has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes) that get worse

Can my child go to school if he or she is sick?

No. Your child should stay home to rest and to avoid giving the flu to other children.

Should my child go to school if other children are sick?

It is not unusual for some children in school to get sick during the winter months. If many children get sick, it is up to you to decide whether to send your child to school. You might want to check with your doctor, especially if your child has other health problems.

When can my child go back to school after having the flu?

Keep your child home from school until his or her temperature has been normal for 24 hours. Remind your child to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, to protect others (you may want to send some tissue and wipes or gels with alcohol in them to school with your child).

Wishing you all good health,

Nurse Donna

Friday, September 16, 2011

Head Lice

One of the most common misconceptions is that head lice only happen to the poor, the unclean, or the uneducated. For a long time, it was thought that people got head lice only from being in filthy environments or because of poor hygiene. We know that isn’t true. Head lice are found on children who attend any school, who shampoo daily and have short or long hair. In fact head lice prefer a clean head. It can happen to anyone.

Head lice are small insects about the size of a sesame seed. They are tan or grayish and are often difficult to see. They like to be in dark places and will quickly hide under hair when you part it to look for them. It is usually easier to find the nits or eggs. Nits are whitish and teardrop shaped and very tiny. You will find them attached to the hair. They are “glued” on and are difficult to remove. Head lice can’t fly or jump, so don’t be concerned when you are looking for them.

If you are certain your child has head lice, check other family members. Everyone infested should be treated at the same time. Don’t worry about the family pet, head lice only live on people. Please inform the school ASAP so that the spread in your child’s classroom can be limited.

Children cannot ride the school bus until the school nurse has checked the child.

To successfully treat head lice several steps need to be followed:

1. Use of a lice (pediculicide) shampoo. There are several brands available, without prescription, at local pharmacies. Consult with your doctor before using any lice product on pregnant/nursing women, infants, or those with allergies. Read the label carefully and follow directions. Apply the shampoo to dry hair. Wetting the hair first makes it less effective. It is best to do this over a sink as this keeps the shampoo on the scalp only. Make sure behind the ears and the nape of the neck is treated thoroughly. If you notice swollen glands in the neck or under the arm, or scratch marks can be seen, infection may be present. Consult with your doctor before giving any treatment.

2. Comb out the nits while the hair is still wet. Use the comb that came with the shampoo or a separate one can be purchased. Many people find a metal comb more effective and it can be sterilized and re-used. It is time consuming but very important to remove all of the nits. If you are having a lot of difficulty, some people find that a vinegar rinse helps to loosen the nits. After you are done with this, shampoo with a regular shampoo. Check daily and keep removing any nits that might have been missed. A second treatment, 7-10 days after the first treatment, may be necessary to eliminate any new nits or lice. If after these two treatments the problem still exists consult with your doctor. Remember your child has to be “nit free” to return to school.

3. Since lice can survive off the body for several hours and nits for longer, it is important that your immediate environment be cleaned. Vacuum carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture and mattresses. Wash recently worn clothing, towels, sheet and linens in hot, soapy water and dry in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes. Items that can’t be washed can be vacuumed or placed in a plastic bag and sealed for 2 weeks. Soak all combs and hairbrushes in hot water (130 degrees) or in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes. Vacuum your car seats and headrests.

Do not use sprays-they are not effective and are potentially harmful to humans and pets. All of these measures take time and patience, but should limit the spread of head lice in your family and in school. If you have any questions about head lice and treatment, I am more than happy to help you with the answers.

If you have a computer handy go to the National Pediculosis Association web site at www.headlice.org. They have a wealth of information.

Nurse Donna

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week of September 12th update

Strep throat is still on the rise; first, second and third grade classes at this time. Should your child complain of a sore throat, please take it seriously.

It is also the season for head lice so I ask that you remind your children not to share hair items, brushes, scrunchies, hats, hoodies, etc. Girls with long hair should try to pull it back while riding the bus to avoid additonal exposure. Remember it is not a hygeine issue, but rather a pesky issue that can happen to any of our children.

Most importantly; I need to stress proper hand washing for ALL our children. Especially while at school. Proper hand washing technique to teach your childen is;

1. Use warm running water
2. Use liquid or pump soap whenever possible
3. Rub hands/fingers together 10-20 seconds vigorously
4. Scrub under fingernails (germs hide there)
5. Rinse and dry well

Sometimes it helps to teach our little ones to sing either Happy Birthday or the ABC's song while washing to assure they wash long enough before rinsing.

Always remember, hand washing IS the #1 preventative in preventing the spread of viruses per the Center of Disease Control.

Happy hand washing and good health to all,

Nurse Donna

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strep Throat

Please be advised that we have positive diagnosis of Strep Throat in both 1st & second grade classrooms at this time. If you child develops a fever or sore throat, DO NOT send your child to school and PLEASE follow up with your family physician immediately for treatment options.

Should a unknown rash develop please seek medical attention as strep w/rash is also known as “Scarlet Fever

***Symptoms of strep throat include fever, stomach pain, vomiting and red, swollen tonsils***

It is a great time to reinforce proper hand washing techniques at home with your children and remind them to not put their fingers in their mouth, nose or eyes as they are the 3 ways by which viruses enter the body.

Wishing everyone a healthy day,

Nurse Donna

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vaccination Deadline IS Approaching

One of my least favorite tasks at the beginning of the school year however it is the law. Many of you will be receiving bright pink notes stating that your child has until September 22, 2011 to provide proof of mandated vaccinations. If you receive this note, please heed the warning.

Those students that do not comply with Ohio law will NOT be able to return to school after that Friday, until their vaccination records are brought up to date. Should you have additional questions by all means call my office.

Nurse Donna