What are Viral Infections or Illnesses?
Viral infections are the usual causes of colds, coughs, fevers, rashes, most sore throats, most ear aches, influenza (the Flu), gastroenteritis, diarrhea and vomiting. Most viral infections are mild and do not last long, but they can be painful and make you feel very ill. The usual viral illnesses have the following things in common:
- They are self-limiting. They will get better without treatment.
- They are resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics are of no help in treatment.
- The illness can be as painful as other infections.
How are Viral Infections spread?
Depending on the specific virus, infections can be air borne, animal borne, food borne, blood borne or water borne. Prevention measures are the best way to avoid viral illness.
What are the symptoms?
You may have fever, chills, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, red, watery eyes, headache, decreased appetite, muscle aches, decreased activity, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea, coughing, and rashes.
How can Viral Illnesses be prevented?
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. You can pick up germs easily, even when shaking someone's hand or touching doorknobs or handrails.
- Avoid people with colds when possible.
- If you sneeze or cough, do it into a tissue and then throw the tissue away.
- Blow your nose with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Clean surfaces touched with a germ-killing disinfectant.
- Don't touch your nose, eyes or mouth. Germs can enter your body easily by these paths.
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered.
How can I treat the symptoms?
- Drink plenty of cool, clear fluids. When ill, you may not feel like eating solid foods, but you need to drink to avoid dehydration.
- If you have a stuffy nose, sore throat or cough, use a cool-mist humidifier.
- Make sure you get plenty of rest.
- Treat fevers with Motrin or Tylenol (do not give aspirin) as directed. Do not send your child to school with a fever.
When should I see a Doctor?
If your child's breathing is heavy or labored. If you develop new symptoms or pains, including a stiff neck. If your child looks or act sicker, is very sleepy or very irritable. If your child's fever lasts more than 2-3 days. If your child appears dehydrated (no tears when cries, no urine for 6 or more hours, looks like lost weight, acts tired and will not play for even a short while).
Where can I get more information?
Your family doctor, school Health Office or the staff at the local health department are excellent sources of information on all communicable diseases.
Parents of students with a communicable or contagious disease are asked to telephone the school health office so that other students who have been exposed to the disease can be alerted. Students with diseases are not allowed to come to school while they are contagious.