Health Office News

What have we been seeing in the health offices and hearing about in the community and state?

Every school year in the health office we see illnesses such as the Common Cold Virus, the Flu & Strep Throat. 
Colds are very irritating with mild symptoms such as stuffy or runny noses, sneezing, coughs(productive) possibly causing mild chest discomfort & mild sore throats.  Colds often are not associated with fevers or headaches. 
However, the Flu and Strep Throat often can be accompanied by coughs(non-productive) possibly causing more discomfort in the chest and throat, fevers (usually over 100 degrees F) and headaches.  The throat discomfort associated with Strep Throat is more severe(like pins are poking the back of the throat) and very red, white patches can often be seen on the throat or tonsils(roundish nodular tissue on either side of the throat of varying sizes) and the tongue may be coated white and then become red.  If these symptoms are noticed a visit to a medical clinic, pediatrician or Doctor's office, for diagnosis is a good idea.
All of these above mentioned illnesses are contagious and are acquired from the secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of infected individuals that can be on surfaces as well as in airborne droplets(from sneezing, coughing etc.).
Individuals with diagnosis of Flu or Strep Throat should be kept home for the entire duration of the fever and should only return to school if they have been fever free for an entire 24 hour period without fever reducing medication.  Individuals should be on any antibiotics that have been prescribed for a full 24 hour period as well, before returning to school. 
 
Fifth's Disease(Slapped Cheek illness) has popped up again this year and seems to be a cyclical illness that we have noticed after the area has experienced heavy rains during the winter months.  It is caused by the human Parvovirus B19 not associated with the Parvovirus for animals.  It is also contagious and spread through the secretions from the nose, throat, and mouth of infected individuals and can be on surfaces as well as in airborne droplets.  However the initial symptoms experienced are often very mild such as low grade fevers, possible headaches and body aches, and nausea and chills for 2-3 days.  Sometimes there is very little in the way of symptoms at all.  This is the reason that it is usually not noticed that an individual is in the contagious phase of this illness and then when you are aware of it, it is to late!   About a week after the initial symptoms then a rash appears starting with bright rosy cheeks that can be warm to touch.  Following this in a day or so a lace-like rash will be noticed on upper arms and legs and can be on trunk and back.  This rash is reactive to heat and sun so will be more prominent with activity and warmth and fade when the individual cools off.  Unfortunately the rash can stay for 6-8 weeks.  Individuals that have the rash but no other symptoms such as fever are allowed at school.  Adults can acquire Fifth's disease and may experience joint discomfort in the wrists and knees as a symptom.  Also, if a family member in the household is pregnant or may have come in contact with someone with Fifth's disease outside the home they should notify their OB/GYN Doctor immediately for precautionary measures.
 
Pertussis (Whooping cough) is also on the rise in the community and have dealt with a few cases this year at the school.  This illness is also contagious and is spread through secretions of the nose, throat and mouth of infected individuals and can be on surfaces as well as in airborne droplets.  However, because the symptoms can be quite mild the key symptom to watch for is the "cough".  It progressively gets harsher and seems to linger for 2-3 weeks. The cough can become so deep that it can trigger nausea or vomiting and may have a whoop sound upon the individual catching their breath. If you notice this with your child/children please schedule an appointment or visit one of the local or county clinics to have them assessed by a physician.  If you need assistance with sites please contact your schools health office personnel. 
 
As we have been hearing on the news the state of Arizona has had a few cases of Measles since the case was found at Disneyland in California over the Winter Break.  Measles is a highly contagious illness also spread through secretions from the nose, throat and mouth of infected individuals and can be on surfaces and well as in airborne droplets.  The difference with this illness is that droplets infected with the measles virus can remain in the air for many hours.  Normally the individual will experience a fever of 101 degrees F or higher, red watery eyes, runny nose, cough and sore throat.  After these symptoms a blotchy red rash may appear that usually begins on the head and face and spreads to the rest of the body.  If you notice any of these symptoms please seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis.  The Center for Disease control has been in contact with school health personnel to inform of protocol for any cases a school might have.  Their recommendation is to remove the individual/individuals with the illness, have it diagnosed by lab tests and a Dr., and any students not having the required immunizations will be removed from the school for a minimum of 21 days. 
Today (2/23/15) the Maricopa County Health Department sent schools information regarding many cases of individuals with rashes are being seen, but have not been related to the measles virus.  This is wonderful news but the health offices will still be on high alert for any rashes, to keep our campuses safe and healthy and we are hopeful we will get through the remainder of the school year without seeing this illness.
Some of the illnesses mentioned above have vaccines that are given to minimize the severity of the illness and are part of childhood immunizations.  Immunizations have greatly helped in reducing illnesses that can have some severe side effects associated with them.
If you have any questions regarding this information please give the school health office a call and we will be glad to assist you!
Stay healthy and safe! 
 
Regards,
 
Shari Molera RN, BSN  Desert Oasis Health Office (623)556-5883
Lori Dame Health Office Manager, EMT  Nadaburg Health Office (623)388-2126