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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Fall/winter illnesses are beginning, prevention is key

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

(Photo)
Wyatt Hicks uses hand sanitizer Monday afternoon at the Sikeston Kindergarten Center
(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- When temperatures drop, the number of common childhood fall and winter illnesses are likely to rise -- but health officials say there are prevention measures that can be taken.

Registered nurse Nikki Vaught, health coordinator for Sikeston R-6 schools, said the school district has already seen a little bit of the seasonal illnesses this year.

"Mostly what we've seen has been the vomiting -- and we've had some high temperatures," Vaught said.

Leslie Sisk, manager of Missouri Delta Medical Center's maternal child ward, which covers obstetrics, nursery and pediatrics, said RSV is a very common winter illness.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants and children under 1 year old.

"It's just starting. RSV starts at the same time as flu and is over by mid-

February although last year it went through March or April 1," Sisk said.

As the weather changes from warm to cold, children spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other or wrapped up in germ-carrying coats and hats, increasing their chances of becoming ill. Among common illnesses included in this category are chickenpox, head lice, strep throat and the flu.

"It's just enclosed spaces and having too many germs in one area," Sisk said about the increase in illnesses this time of year. "It's important for parents and their children to open their eyes now to winter illness prevention methods."

The No. 1 preventative measure children can do is wash their hands frequently, Vaught and Sisk said.

"Most of the viruses are spread through droplets when you cough or sneeze, and if you don't wash your hands, it can spread to others," Vaught said.

Staying well hydrated and eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables and following the food pyramid, Vaught said.

Hydration is another key, Vaught said.

"Even hydration makes a difference on sore throats and allergy or viral illnesses or the common cold. A lot of times the illness can cure on its own with hydration," Vaught said.

Ensuring children are dressed properly for weather conditions, getting lots of rest, covering mouths when coughing or sneezing and then washing hands are other suggestions, Vaught said.

If a child has a temperature over 100 degrees, they need to stay home, Vaught said. And if children are vomiting, they should stay home, too.

"If they're vomiting, children can sometimes have a viral infection and not even have a temperature," Vaught said, adding Sikeston sends fall/winter illness newsletters out to parents with information about the differences between a cold and flu symptoms.

Just don't send them to school sick, Vaught said.

Also parents should be able to tell if they're child isn't acting like themselves, which is another indicator of a sick child.

Sisk also recommend any kids who have asthma or any kind of chronic illnesses and any child six months or older.