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Contagious Illnesses

Because schools are public locations where large numbers of people gather, it's easy for contagious diseases to spread. It's important that everyone take part in preventing the spread of illness.

Following are several types of common illnesses found in schools, as well as resources for how to prevent them:

Bed Bugs — Check the seams of mattresses or other upholstered furniture for eggs. Finding many small insect bites on legs and other body parts are a clue that bed bugs are active. Bed bugs are hard to kill, and it may take several treatments. Bed bugs do not cause disease.

How can I get rid of bed bugs?

Bites and Stings — Most people are not allergic to insect bites or bee stings and should be able to recognize the difference between a normal reaction and an allergic reaction.

More information on Bites and Stings

Chicken Pox — Once very common, chicken pox has been greatly reduced by the vaccine. However, it is highly contagious, and any child with chicken pox should stay home.

Information on chicken pox

Dental — Dental problems are a leading cause of infection, which can be spread by sharing drinks, toothbrushes, etc. It is easily treatable with proper dental care, provided in many CPS schools.

Diarrhea Illnesses — These include virus and bacteria-type illnesses such as Shigella and Salmonella. The best protection is good  hand washing after bathroom use.

Flu, including H1N1 — Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. Flu shots are recommended for children and are available in the fall each year.

When to Keep Your Child Home
Hand Washing

Head Lice — This is a common problem that does not cause disease. It spreads quickly by sharing hats, combs/brushes and other hair accessories. It can be treated easily with a specific shampoo or conditioner.

Head lice information sheet

Impetigo — Impetigo is a staph or strep infection on the skin and is contagious. Treatment can involve keeping the infected area cleaned and applying an antibacterial ointment.

Impetigo instruction sheet

MRSA — Methacillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) is a staph bacteria skin infection that may be resistant to many antibiotics and can cause serious illness that requires immediate treatment. For contact sports, this infection can spread quickly through a team, so frequent disinfection of facilities is important.

Read more about MRSA

Norovirus — the stomach bug — Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Norovirus infection causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Norovirus illness is often called by other names, such as food poisoning and stomach flu. Noroviruses can cause food poisoning, as can other germs and chemicals. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza). Though they share some of the same symptoms, the flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

Read Norovirus Illness: Key Facts

Pertussis — There has been a resurgence of this disease, commonly known as "whooping cough." Being up-to-date on immunizations helps prevent the spread of this illness. It can be devastating to infants so vaccination is key.

More about pertussis

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) — Pink Eye shows up as redness in the eye or eyelid, along with a thick discharge and itchy burning eyes. It spreads readily from person-to-person by touch and it can travel quickly through a classroom. Good hand washing is the key to stop the spread of this illness.

More information on conjunctivitis

Ringworm — This fungal skin infection shows up as a red ring-like rash and spreads by contact with people and, sometimes, cats. It requires treatment with a cream and may take a month or more to clear the infection.

Scalp ringworm instruction sheet

Scabies — This is a tiny mite that burrows under the skin causing intense itching and multiple bites which may look like a rash. It does not cause disease, but is spread rapidly from skin contact. There is a prescription treatment for the skin.

Scabie information sheet

Strep Throat — The primary symptoms are fever and a really painful sore throat. If suspected, a test should be done by a health professional.

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