Back to School Bug

Come Monday, August 20th, schools all over Pinellas County will be back in session. Summer time will
officially be over for parents and just when you think it’s safe to take a breather… it happens: your child
goes into the first sneezing fit of the 2012-2013 school year. It will be the first of many and before you
know, the whole family must be quarantined.

Good grief! Why is it that every year your child heads back to class, there seems to be an outbreak of
cataclysmic proportions of the Back to School Bug?!

Unlike an adult, a young child’s immune system hasn’t been exposed to many strains of viruses and with
common hand-to- mouth/nose/eye behaviors among children, one sick child’s sneeze can wreak havoc
on an entire classroom. Making matters worse are the drops in temperature over the winter months
which force people to seek refuge indoors and within close proximity to one another.

So what is a parent to do?

Luckily, Florida’s winters are mild, thus so are our flu seasons. However, if it is your child that has fallen
ill, it’s best for everyone if they are kept at home and given plenty of rest. There the sickness can run
its course and no other child is in danger of becoming infected. If you are the parent of a healthy child,
prevention and education is key. Keep your child’s vaccines up to date and teach your child to wash his/
her hands frequently and for the length of the ABC song. Hand-washing is especially important after
sharing community resources such as pencil sharpeners, computers, and water fountains- as well as
after using the restroom and prior to lunch or snacking. If they must cough or sneeze, teach them to do
so in a tissue paper or at the very least into the inner part of the elbow.

Remember, as the parent, you are their role model so practice what you preach! Because the only thing
worse than the Back-to-School Bug…is the Back-to-Work one.