New school year means new germs

April 17, 2009 11:02:21 AM PDT
The start of a new school year can mean new friends, new schools and possibly new germs for your children. Experts say there are several illnesses parents especially need to watch out for.More than 200,000 Houston area kids are back in class.

Student Claudia Portillo said, "I'm a senior and our concern as a student is to, you know, to get a cold, coughs and something like that and ruin our first days of school."

It's a concern for parents, as well.

"There's a lot of stuff they could get in school," said parent Maria Torres.

According to research, the top five things your kid is most likely to catch at school are:

  • A cold, with a billion cases each year.
  • Head lice - 12 million cases a year
  • Ringworm, which affects up to 20% of the population
  • Pink eye, which causes 164 million missed school days annually
  • Chicken pox - about 4 million cases a year
They're all easily spread at school.

"Kids are always touching each other and touching their mouth and touching their nose," said Evelyn Henry, R.N. HISD, Dir. Health and Medical Services. "Kids are coming from a protected environment in which they were not with other big groups of children. So they may be a little more prone, a little more susceptible."

But HISD and other area school districts are teaching hand washing along with abc's. They're also asking parents to share information -- if your child is sick, tell the school nurse. It's the right thing to do.

Sharon Shakesnider, R.N., a school nurse at Alcott Elementary, said, "Parents should always let the nurse know if a child comes down with something that we're not aware of and any other illnesses they might have that are chronic or ongoing. Always let us know."

Doctors say the start of the school year coincides with cold and flu season.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter

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