COMMON ILLNESSES

  • Influenza
    
Influenza is a common upper respiratory disease. It is not what is commonly referred to as "stomach flu," which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms including fever, chills, coughing, headache, fatigue, sore throat and muscle aches. The symptoms are much more severe than with a common cold.


    Call the doctor if you or your child has a persistent high fever, fever with a rash, trouble breathing or rapid breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, seem very sleepy or lethargic, seem confused, and have flu symptoms that get better but then get worse.
 Stay home from school or work when you are ill. Students can return to school 24 hours after their fever is gone without fever-reducing medication and are feeling well enough to participate in school. Flu symptoms may last 5 to 7 days.

    Reference the Flu and Colds page to learn more about the symptoms you are experiencing. 


    
Stomach Flu
    Stomach flu (not influenza which is a respiratory illness) is going around in our schools. Students have stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea, slight fevers and fatigue. Students should stay home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped.
Stomach flu is spread easily from person to person, so it is important to stay home while sick. It lasts anywhere from 1 to 2 days depending on the individual and the severity of the symptoms. If it lasts longer than that and you are concerned about your child's health, contact your health care provider.
Prevent the stomach flu by washing your hands frequently as it is spread by touching contaminated items. Prevent dehydration by offering small amounts of liquids frequently. Offer nutritious bland foods when vomiting or diarrhea has stopped and slowly work up to regular foods. If you are concerned about dehydration, contact your health care provider.
If your child has the stomach flu, call your school's attendance line to report this.



    Strep Throat
    Strep throat can start suddenly with fever, red sore throat and swollen glands. In some children and adults, headache, nausea, stomach ache, and vomiting may be more common. A fine raised rash could also occur. It is contagious, and students need to stay home for 24 hours after treatment has begun. Antibiotics are given to treat strep throat.



    Head Lice
    Head lice are very small brownish-colored insects that live on the head. They lay their eggs (nits) close to the scalp. The eggs are gray or white in color. They are stuck to the hair like glue. Anyone can get head lice.


    The symptoms of head lice are:

    • 
itching of the head and neck
    • Look for: crawling lice in the hair or the eggs that are glued to the hair (often found behind the ears and at the back of the neck)

    
Lice are spread by direct head-to-head contact with the hair of an infested person. They can't jump or fly. They crawl and can fall off the head. Head lice do not live longer than 48 hours off the head. Eggs do not hatch if they fall off the head. Head lice feet are specially adapted for holding onto human hair. They would have difficulty attaching to smooth or slippery surfaces like plastic, metal, and similar materials.

    
If you find head lice in your child's hair, call your child's school and daycare to inform them. Treat your child for head lice using the product/method of your choice. Remove eggs (nits) daily. It takes at least 2 weeks to get rid of lice. If all nits within 1/2 inch of the scalp are not removed, some may hatch and your child will be infested again. Parents should check their children's hair weekly for head lice. Catching it early helps prevent the spread of lice to others.


    Students who have lice must be treated before returning to school or daycare. No live lice are to be seen. Nits are not considered live lice. If you have questions, contact your child's school health office for more information.

    Lice Links >
    Myths and Facts of Head Lice
    What Do Nits and Lice Look Like?
    Minnesota Department of Health
    Mayo Clinic 

    School Procedures for Head Lice
    Management of head lice involves a three step process. The first is identification and treatment with a special chemical product, followed by removal of nits. The third and final step involves environmental measures.

    1. A general notice regarding head lice will go to all homes before the start of the school year, and periodically throughout the year during periods of heavy infestation.
    2. Reports of head lice infestation should be referred to the school nurse or health assistant.
    3. The student will be screened to verify the presence of head lice/ nits. If head lice/nits are identified, the nurse or health assistant will screen siblings and attempt to contact the parent/ guardian. Parents will be requested to come to school and take their child(ren) home.

    If attempts to reach the parent/guardian are unsuccessful, other in-school accommodations will be made.

    1. Parent education and information on community resources will be provided. Parents are expected to keep the child home until their child is head lice and nit free. No more than three days of excused absences will be allowed per occurrence.
    2. The parent is required to accompany the child on return to school. The nurse or health assistant will examine the head for evidence of head lice/nits. If any are found, the child needs to return home with the parent.
    3. The school nurse will assess for the need to screen other students.
    4. The treated student will be checked in one week and periodically by the nurse or health assistant.
    5. The nurse or health assistant will review school environmental factors with appropriate school staff.