Chickenpox is a common childhood disease. It is caused by a virus and can spread from child to child. Chickenpox usually begins with a fever, headache, crankiness, and loss of appetite. A day or two later a red rash with blisters appears. Most children have had a shot to prevent them from getting this disease. Sometimes children who have had the shot still get chickenpox, however, it is generally very mild and the rash might be the only symptom. These children are contagious and should stay home until the blisters scab over. Please contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about any symptoms your child is experiencing.
- A student with a fever of 100 degrees or over will be sent home and advised not to return to school until fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
- This policy will be revised as directed by local, state and federal health officials responding to communicable disease trends such as influenza.
Flu shots are available through your healthcare provider, area clinics, pharmacies, and Hunt County Health Department. Additional information on seasonal flu is available on the websites of the Center for Disease Control and TexasFlu.org.
Students, staff, and parents with flu-like symptoms should stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Please notify the attendance office at your school if your child is home with the flu or flu-like symptoms. This will assist the District and Hunt County Health Department in monitoring the spread of the flu.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord---also called the meninges. It can be caused by viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Viral (aseptic) meningitis is common; most people recover fully. Medical management of viral meningitis consists of supportive treatment and there is usually no indication for the use of antibiotics. Parasitic and fungal meningitis are very rare. Bacterial meningitis is very serious and may involve complicated medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, and life support management.
There are two common types of bacteria that cause meningitis:
- Strep pneumoniae causes pneumococcal meningitis; there are over 80 subtypes that cause illness
- Neisseria meningitidis–meningococcal meningitis; there are 5 subtypes that cause serious illness–A, B, C, Y, W-135
What are the symptoms?
Someone with meningitis will become very ill. The illness may develop over one or two days, but it can also rapidly progress in a matter of hours. Not everyone with meningitis will have the same symptoms.
Children (over 1-year-old) and adults with meningitis may have:
- A severe headache
- High temperature
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Neck stiffness, joint pains
- Drowsiness or confusion *In both children and adults, there may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots or bruises caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body. They are a sign of blood poisoning (septicemia), which sometimes happens with meningitis, particularly the meningococcal strain.
How serious is bacterial meningitis?
If it is diagnosed early and treated promptly, the majority of people make a complete recovery. In some cases, it can be fatal or a person may be left with a permanent disability, such as deafness, blindness, amputations or brain damage (resulting in mental retardation or paralysis) even with prompt treatment.
How is bacterial meningitis spread?
Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. The germs live naturally in the back of our noses and throats, but they do not live for long outside the body. They are spread when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing; sharing drinking containers, utensils or cigarettes).
The germ does not cause meningitis in most people. Instead, most people become carriers of the germ for days, weeks or even months. Being a carrier helps to stimulate your body’s natural defense system. The bacteria rarely overcome the body’s immune system and causes meningitis or another serious illness.
What is the risk of getting bacterial meningitis?
The risk of getting bacterial meningitis in all age groups is about 2.4 cases per 100,000 population per year. However, the highest risk group for the most serious form of the disease, meningococcal meningitis, is highest among children 2 to 18 years old.
How is bacterial meningitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood. Spinal fluid is obtained by a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
How can bacterial meningitis be prevented?
Do not share food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes, or cigarettes. Limit the number of persons you kiss.
Vaccines against pneumococcal disease are recommended both for young children and adults over 64. A vaccine against four meningococcal serogroups (A, C, Y, W-135) is available. These four groups cause the majority of meningococcal cases in the United States. This vaccine is required for students entering 7th grade. The vaccine is safe and effective (85-90%). It can cause mild side effects, such as redness and pain at the injection site lasting up to two days. Immunity develops within 7 to 10 days after the vaccine is given and lasts for up to 5 years.
What should you do if you think you or a friend might have bacterial meningitis?
Seek prompt medical attention.
For more information
Your school nurse, family doctor, and the staff at your local or regional health department office are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases. You may also call your local health department or Regional Texas Department of Health office to ask about the meningococcal vaccine. Additional information may also be found on the Center for Disease Control website: www.cdc.gov
Voices of Meningitis
Staph & MRSA
Staph infection is a contagious skin infection that is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Staph is a common germ that many people carry in their nasal passages, under their fingernails or on their skin with no ill effects. MRSA is a type of Staph that has developed antibiotic resistance (certain antibodies are unable to kill the bacteria). Since Staph is spread primarily by direct (skin-to-skin) human contact or with direct contact to wound drainage of someone who is carrying or infected with the bacteria, anyone with a break in his or her skin is at risk. MRSA may also occur less frequently through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces or items. MRSA is not spread through the air.
Staph infections begin abruptly. Symptoms may include a large area of redness on the skin, swelling, and pain, followed by a pustule or abscess or boils and carbuncles (red, lumpy sores filled with pus). If left untreated, Staph can infect blood and bones, causing severe illness that requires hospitalization.
Some sore throats are caused by streptococcus and will need antibiotic treatment. The only way to be sure if a sore throat is caused by strep is to have a throat culture done. This is a simple test that can be done in a few minutes in your physician's office.
If your child has or develops one or more of the symptoms listed below with a sore throat it may be a strep throat:
- Spots on tonsils or throat
- Feels or seems ill
- Swollen or tender nodes in the neck
- Abdominal pain
If any of these symptoms are present call your child's physician for advice. Early and adequate treatment can help prevent the spread of illness or serious complications like rheumatic fever, kidney damage, heart disease or arthritis.
Once appropriate therapy is started your child should start feeling better in a day or two and will not be considered contagious after two days of antibiotics. Your child's rapid and complete recovery can be helped by following these guidelines:
DO NOT STOP THE MEDICATION WHEN YOUR CHILD FEELS BETTER.
Insist that each dose of medicine is taken as prescribed.
Do not save any antibiotics for later use.
Do not allow others to take or share the antibiotics.
Encourage plenty of liquids and adequate rest.
CALL THE PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF Your child does not improve in a day or two, gets worse, reacts to the medication (rash, diarrhea, etc.)
For additional information on Strep Throat click here - KidsHealth.org