From the Health Room: Flu Season
As expected, the flu has hit South Carolina at an epidemic level. Now that school is back in session, everyone is gearing up for the impact. Teachers are reminding students to wash their hands often and cover their mouths and noses when coughing. Frequently touched surfaces are being cleaned using products that kill the virus. Students who come to school with a cough, fever or sore throat are being seem by the school nurse and sent home if needed. New Heights Middle is working closely with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regarding any additional recommendations they believe will prevent or contain the illness.
Symptoms of this year’s strain of flu ( H3N2) include high fever, generalized weakness, cough and muscle aches. Some children are also experiencing nausea and vomiting. Symptoms are lasting generally 3 – 5 days. Because the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not indicated. For adults and children with no chronic illnesses, doctors are recommending treating the symptoms. This includes Tylenol/ Motrin for aches and fever and cough medication for coughs and congestion. Clear liquid diets are also suggested until symptoms subside. Complications such as pneumonia, sinusitis and bronchitis can occur with the flu, so it is important to see your doctor if conditions have not improved after 1 week.
Lately, there has been an increased concern over a virus that is causing mild to severe respiratory illnesses in children ages 2 to 16. The virus is called Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Although no cases have been reported in South Carolina to date, many cases have been confirmed in 12 other states including North Carolina and Georgia. Children diagnosed with the EV-D68 have symptoms much like the common cold: sneezing, coughing, low grade fevers, mild congestion and runny noses. Children with other chronic respiratory problems such as asthma may have more severe coughs, wheezing, shortness of breath and fever and may require hospitalization.
Like all viruses, EV-D68 spreads through close contact. Touching a surface that has the virus and then touching your face may be all it takes. There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 . Plenty of rest, fluids and over the counter medicines to treat the symptoms will help ease the discomfort in just a few days.
To prevent the spread of EV-D68, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often when in contact with others. Clean and disinfect any surface frequently touched by others. Avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging or sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. Students who have productive coughs and are sneezing frequently or wheezing and have low grade fevers should stay home from school and see a doctor if the symptoms persist after 3 days.