From Student Health Services: Cold, Flu and Pertussis
As you are likely aware, we are in the middle of cold and flu season. And, tragically, a nearby District recently lost a young student to complications of the flu. Therefore, we wanted to update you on recent health issues within our District and remind you about what we can all do to limit the spread of communicable illnesses.
Pertussis: As in past years, LMSD has had a few confirmed cases of pertussis. These have occurred at Harriton High School and Cynwyd Elementary School. The pertussis cases are not unusual and have occurred in students who are immunized. Typically, cases of pertussis that occur in immunized students are mild. Pertussis vaccination is required for students. People who have been diagnosed with pertussis can return to school after completing five days of antibiotic treatment.
Flu: Although flu vaccine is not required, many, if not most, of our students and staff have been vaccinated for flu. Although the flu vaccine is not 100% effective for all strains, it is still an effective way to prevent an illness that can have serious complications.
What the District is Doing:
- Communication and Monitoring: At this time of year, the Health Services department monitors student illness reports, trends and absenteeism and is in frequent (often daily) contact with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. The Health Department lets us know when cases of cases of certain communicable diseases are confirmed and issues guidelines for communications. We in turn will communicate important health information to families.
- Cleaning: The Health Services Department and Custodial Departments work together to try to limit the spread of diseases whenever possible. Although most diseases are not typically spread through inanimate objects, the Custodial Department provides extra cleaning attention to schools during times of increased illness.
- When indicated, custodians use a form of electrostatic cleaning using vital oxide. This is a highly effective method of disinfection that can reach objects and surfaces not ordinarily reached during cleaning.
- In addition, teachers who request it are provided with an environmentally safe and effective agent for killing most infectious agents. They can use this on inanimate surfaces in their classrooms, when children are not present.
What Parents/Guardians Can Do:
Immunizations: Make sure your child is up-to-date on their immunizations. Immunization remains the best way to prevent diseases like flu and pertussis. Although immunization may not prevent the flu or pertussis, people who are immunized often have milder cases than those who are not.
Seek Medical Attention: If your child has cold symptoms that include a cough, even if your child has been immunized, seek medical attention. Your health care provider is in the best position to determine if the symptoms are due to the common cold, flu, asthma, pertussis or another cause.
- Many health care providers are using the PCR nasopharyngeal swab to diagnose pertussis. Results of this test are usually available in about 48 hours and are considered very reliable.
- If your health care provider suspects pertussis, the Montgomery County Office of Public Health recommends keeping your child home until lab results are back.
- Individuals who are diagnosed with pertussis are mandated by the Health Department to stay home from school for five days while undergoing antibiotic treatment.
- If your child has been swabbed for the flu, kindly inform the School Nurse of positive results.
Good Hygiene: Good hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette remain some of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of communicable illness. Please continue to reinforce these to your children at home as we do in the schools.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call your health care provider or the LMSD Health Services Office at 610-645-1829.