We feel that attendance at GISD is extremely important to your child’s success at school. They must be here to learn! There are also important health reasons for keeping your child home from school. These helpful guidelines should be used to determine when your child should stay home from school due to illness:
Fever of 100 degrees or higher in the past 24 hours- Your child needs to be free of fever for a full 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medications (such as Tylenol, Motrin or Fever-All) before sending them back to school.
Vomiting and/or diarrhea in the past 24 hours
Itchy, red eyes with discharge
Rash that has fluid or pus coming from it until treatment has been received, and a note from the doctor states that your child may return to school
Ringworm of the scalp (until treatment has started)
Head lice (may return after appropriate lice treatment) -Your school nurse will need to check your child’s head before he/she returns to class
We ask that you help us in encouraging your children to wash their hands often, use hand sanitizer, and cover their noses and mouths when they cough or sneeze. It is also helpful for your children to get plenty of sleep and to eat healthy foods-especially breakfast.
The nursing staff will assist you if you have any questions concerning illness or communicability of a disease. We share a common goal – the health, safety, and educational success of your child!
You may be aware that the flu is spreading throughout our community and our schools are being impacted as well. The district has seen an increase in absences because of the flu.
Often, we get confused about the symptoms of the flu and how they are different from a common cold. Quick recognition of flu symptoms will help prevent the spread of illness. Please contact your physician if you or your child exhibits any of the following:
Common symptoms of the flu include:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Muscle and body aches
- Dry cough
Common symptoms of a common cold include:
- Stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Hacking cough
Children often have additional flu symptoms that are rare in adults, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent your child from getting the flu is to take him/her to get a flu vaccine. In addition, talk to your child about practicing good health habits, such as:
- Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Covering their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and disposing of the tissue in a proper trash receptacle
- Avoiding sharing drinks, water bottles or silverware with others.
We encourage you to keep students home if they are showing symptoms of the flu or running a fever. For their own safety and the safety of others, students should not return to school until they have been fever and symptom-free for 24 hours without medication. In addition, I ask that you notify the school nurse if your child has the flu. Monitoring flu incidences will help keep students, faculty and our community healthy.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and we appreciate your support and understanding during this time.
WHAT IS MENINGITIS?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Viral meningitis is the most common and the least serious. Meningitis caused by bacteria is the most likely form of the disease to cause serious, long-term complications. It is an uncommon disease but requires urgent treatment with antibiotics to prevent permanent damage or death.
Bacterial meningitis can be caused by multiple organisms. Two common types are Streptococcus pneumoniae, with over 80 serogroups that can cause illness, and Neisseria meningitidis, with 5 serogroups that most commonly cause meningitis.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Someone with bacterial 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, vomiting, sensitivity to bright lights, neck stiffness, and drowsiness or confusion. In both children and adults, there may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots. These can occur anywhere on the body.
The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis is based on a combination of symptoms and laboratory results.
HOW SERIOUS IS BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
If it is diagnosed early and treated promptly, most people make a complete recovery. If left untreated or treatment is delayed, bacterial meningitis can be fatal, or a person may be left with a permanent disability.
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 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) or when people cough or sneeze without covering their mouth and nose.
The bacteria do not cause meningitis in most people. Instead, most people become carriers of the bacteria for days, weeks or even months. The bacteria rarely overcome the body's immune system and cause meningitis or another serious illness.
HOW CAN BACTERIAL MENINGITIS BE PREVENTED?
Bacterial meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis may be prevented through vaccination. The vaccine which protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae is called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or PCV. This vaccine is recommended by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for children in the first year of life. Neisseria meningitidis is prevented through two types of vaccines. The first is a meningococcal conjugate vaccine which protects against 4 serogroups A, C, W, and Y and is referred to as MCV4. The second is a vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B and is referred to as MenB.
The ACIP recommends MCV4 for children at age 11-12 years, with a booster dose at 16-18 years. In Texas, one dose of MCV4 given at or after age 11 years is required for children in 7th-12th grades. One dose of MCV4 received in the previous five years is required in Texas for those under the age of 22 years and enrolling in college. Teens and young adults (16-23 years of age) may be vaccinated with MenB. This vaccine is not required for school or college enrollment in Texas.
Vaccines to protect against bacterial meningitis are safe and effective. Common side effects include redness and pain at the injection site lasting up to two days. Immunity develops about 1-2 weeks after the vaccines are given and last for 5 years to life depending on the vaccine.
Do not share food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes, or cigarettes. Wash your hands. Limit the number of persons you kiss. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Maintaining healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not having close contact with people who are sick, also helps.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR BACTERIAL MENINGITIS?
Certain groups are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. These risk factors include HIV infection, travel to places where meningococcal disease is common (such as certain countries in Africa and in Saudi Arabia), and college students living in a dormitory. Other risk factors include having a previous viral infection, living in a crowded household, or having an underlying chronic illness.
Children ages 11-15 years have the second-highest rate of death from bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis. And children ages 16-23 years also have the second-highest rates of disease caused by Neisseria meningiditis.
WHAT YOU SHOULD 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 infectious diseases. You may call your family doctor or local health department office to ask about meningococcal vaccine. Additional information may also be found at the web sites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): https://www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/PreteenVaccines.aspx or https://dshs.texas.gov/IDCU/disease/meningitis/Meningitis.aspx
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus “MRSA”
Staphylococcus aureus “Staph” is a bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. It is a common bacterium found widely in the environment. Sometimes, Staph bacteria cause infections. In the United States, Staph bacteria are the most common cause of skin infections, causing pimples, boils, and abscesses. Rarely, Staph can cause more serious infections leading to pneumonia or blood infections.
Some Staph bacteria have become resistant to common antibiotics, such as penicillin. These more potent bacteria are called “Methicillin-resistant.” In the past, these bacteria were found almost exclusively in hospitals. Recently, “MRSA” is being seen more and more in community settings, and is called community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA.
CA-MRSA usually develops as a skin infection such as a boil or abscess. Often, people describe the initial lesion as a “spider bite.” The involved area is swollen and red, painful, and pus may be present. The lesion will often get worse until proper treatment is begun.
The usual mode of transmission of MRSA is direct skin-to-skin contact between an infected person and another individual, often on contaminated hands. Factors related to transmitting staph from one person to another or making a person more susceptible to infection include:
- Poor hygiene, especially lack of hand washing
- Close physical contact and crowded condition
- Sharing personal products
- Contaminated laundry
- Lancing (puncturing/picking/piercing) boils with fingernails or tweezers
- Activities that result in burns, cuts or abrasions or require sharing equipment
- Intravenous drug use, unsanitary tattoos, and body piercing
- Inadequate access to proper medical care
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infections among children have been identified in multiple states. This fact sheet addresses some frequently asked questions about illnesses from EV-D68.
Information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/ev-d68.html.
What is enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68 is one of over 100 types of human enteroviruses and is thought to occur less frequently
than other enteroviruses. Enteroviruses commonly circulate during the summer and fall months.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68 infection? What are the treatments?
EV-D68 usually causes mild, self-limited common cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and cough. Fever has not been reported in most patients with EV-D68 infection.
EV-D68 infection, however, can cause more severe respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing. Persons with severe illness may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy.
Similar symptoms can be caused by other more common respiratory viruses which are also normally circulating at this time of year, such as rhinovirus, other enteroviruses, and influenza.
How can EV-D68 be diagnosed? Who is at risk?
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing special lab tests from swabs from a person’s nose and throat. This type of specific testing is not readily available currently in Texas. CDC recommends that doctors only consider EV-D68 testing for patients with severe respiratory illness.
Because there is no specific antiviral treatment for people with EV-D68 infection, testing a patient for EV-D68 will not affect their doctor’s medical management of their symptoms.
Infants, children, and adolescents are most likely to become infected with enterovirus. Children with asthma seem to have a higher risk of severe illness from EV-D68.
Anyone with respiratory illness should seek medical attention if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.
How is EV-D68 spread? How can I protect myself from infection?
EV-D68 spreads like the common cold. This means you can get EV-D68 by coming in close contact with
sick individuals who cough or sneeze near you or by touching contaminated surfaces.
You can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illnesses with the following steps:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Don’t kiss, hug or share food or drinks with someone who is sick.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and toys.
If your child has asthma, make sure to follow recommended treatment plans and seek medical attention if your child’s breathing worsens or is not controlled by prescribing treatments.
Concerned parents with an ill child should contact their medical provider