Stop the spread of viruses this cold and flu season
Kids are exposed to a massive number of germs on a daily basis . It's the time of year that some refer to as the "back-to-school plague," when students are spreading around viruses. There are some precautions to take to stop the spread.
On average, elementary school children get six to eight colds each school year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. For high school kids, it’s about half that.
Dr. Gregory W. Anderson with Black Hills Pediatrics, LLP, says, “Usually we’re pretty good at Pediatrics up until school starts, then two or three weeks after school starts, all the sickness starts coming back in.”
Kids are most likely to get colds in the fall and winter. In part, that’s because they’re now indoors and in close contact with their classmates and because viruses live better in colder temperatures than warmer temperatures.
But there are some ways to keep your kids healthy. Like making sure children get plenty of sleep and regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. Sleep deprivation lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection, as does stress. But the best preventive measure goes back to what you learned as a child.
Anderson says, “Hand washing is the big thing, so it’s not just sleep and good diet and all the normal stuff you hear about -the exercise, but also hand washing is still her number one way of not getting sick is washing your hands.”
If a sink if not readily available, hand sanitizer will suffice, but make sure it dries completely before going about your business.
Teach your kids to avoid others who are sick and remind them to stop touching their eyes, mouth and nose, since this spreads contamination. Instruct children to sneeze or cough into the crook of their elbow to help stop the spread of germs.
Anderson says, “If you cough or sneeze into your hand, you’re blowing snot, you’re blowing saliva into your hand and if you can’t immediately wash it now you’re touching things- touching people that are spreading those fomites or those germs and other objects for people to catch.”
The CDC recommends students get a flu shot and stay home if they have a fever. They should be fever free for 24 hours before going back to school or daycare.
Anderson says if a child has a fever of over 103 or a fever for more than 5 days, they should be taken to a physician because that could be an indicator of a bacterial infection which can be treated.
Anderson says now is the time to get your flu vaccination, as it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the influenza virus.