Covid to threadworms – spot first signs of common bugs as kids go back to school

Serving Nebraska / Covering The World
SCHOOL’S back this week, but parents be warned.
A wave of childhood illnesses is likely to strike as Covid restrictions ease, experts claim.
Recent figures show cases of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV are already eight times higher than in the same period before the pandemic.
The “out-of season” spike prompted Public Health England to urge parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of the potentially deadly bug.
It’s expected the wave will continue well into the autumn term, coinciding with mounting pressures on the NHS.
Azra Ghani, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, told The Sun: “This is of concern for the NHS because although RSV is a mild infection in the majority of children, a few require intensive care.
“Paediatric intensive care units are limited in capacity.”
RSV is an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract that can develop into bronchiolitis.
Most kids come into contact with it before they turn two years old, but due to the lockdowns fewer kids have been exposed to RSV.
This Morning GP Dr Philippa Kaye told Fab Daily: “As we were apart for a lot of the last year, many children weren’t exposed to lots of common viruses.”
So, as kids return to the classroom and mingle in corridors, without the requirement for class bubbles, doctors predict illnesses will be rife.
Here Dr Kaye shares her “cheat sheet” with LYNSEY HOPE to help parents spot the first signs of common bugs.
THREADWORMS are small, white worms a few millimetres long that live in the human gut and look like strings of cotton when they come out in your child’s poo.
“Threadworms are very common in children and are easily passed around because children are often poor at washing their hands,” Dr Kaye says.
“At night, the female worm lays eggs around the anus. This irritates the skin and causes you to itch and scratch at night.
“The child will then scratch, get eggs on their fingertips or under their nails then put their hands in their mouths and the whole cycle begins again.
“They can also pass it on to others if they touch shared surfaces such as doorknobs or towels while at home.
“That is why if one person is diagnosed, we tend to treat the entire family. But your child won’t need to stay home from school.”
TREATMENT: Mebendazole, which comes as a banana-flavoured liquid or orange-flavoured tablets that can be chewed or swallowed whole, is available to buy in pharmacies.
Strict hygiene measures are vital, including sleeping in underwear then changing it in the morning and washing hands or having a bath or shower when you wake up.
Keep toothbrushes in a cupboard as otherwise eggs may fly up when you wash your hands and settle on your toothbrush.
Sheets, towels and teddy bears all need to be washed regularly.
THIS is a highly contagious skin infection that often starts with red sores on the face or hands and it’s common in children.
“Generally impetigo affects the nose and mouth but it can appear anywhere on the body,” Dr Kaye advises. “It’s very infectious so it is passed easily between children.
“It presents as a pinky, red rash with tiny yellow crusts that can look a bit like cornflakes stuck to the skin.”
TREATMENT: A GP will want to check it is nothing more serious before prescribing antibiotic cream or tablets if it’s very bad.
If it keeps coming back, a GP can prescribe a nasal cream to clear the bacteria and prevent it returning.
RSV is very common and most children are infected with it by the time they are two.
It can cause a cough or cold in older children and adults but sometimes leads to bronchiolitis in younger children.
“Children are usually infected in much the same way as cold and flu, by breathing in infected droplets,” Dr Kaye explains.
“We’ve already seen a rise in respiratory illnesses over the summer. We need to continue to practise good hygiene.
“Parents should also make sure children get their nasal flu vaccine if eligible.
“Not only can flu make children very sick, but they can spread it and make others very poorly too.”
TREATMENT: There’s no specific treatment but seek urgent medical help if your baby or child is struggling to breathe.
MEASURING around 3mm long, head lice are insects that live in human hair.
Nits are their eggs which appear as brown or white shells and are attached to individual strands.
“They spread very quickly in classrooms as children often work and play with their heads close together,” Dr Kaye warns.
“It’s nothing to do with dirty hair. They spread by head-to-head contact. The lice bite the scalp which causes irritation and makes your head itch.”
You can check for lice by looking through your child’s hair but they can be quite difficult to spot.
If you find some, inform your child’s school who will send a message to other parents who can then do a head check.
TREATMENT: Only treat if you see live head lice.
The NHS recommends wet combing initially, This is where you apply conditioner, section the hair and comb it through from the roots to the ends.
You have to do this on days one, five, nine and 13 and check the hair is free of lice on day 17.
If your child still has lice after 17 days, speak to your pharmacist about medicated lotions and sprays.
ALSO known as fifth disease, this is a viral infection that leads to mild flu-like symptoms.
“Children often have a few days where they get a high temperature, runny nose, sore throat and headache,” Dr Kaye says.
“Then they get a rash on the cheeks which is often very red and may appear like sunburn.
“A few days after the rash appears on the face, it may spread all over the body and it can be very itchy.”
Your child can return to school once the rash has cleared but you should inform teachers in case your child has been around any pregnant women as there is a very small risk of miscarriage or other complications.
 TREATMENT: Fluids and paracetamol for a high temperature, joint pain or headache.
Pharmacists can also offer an antihistamine for children if the rash is very itchy.
“IT’S important to remember Covid has not gone away,” explains Dr Kaye.
“While children get it less often and usually only suffer mild cases, any child who has a temperature needs to go home and have a PCR test. A lateral flow test can only be used if you are asymptomatic.”
Kids should be kept at home until they receive a negative test result or their fever eases.
In the case of a positive test, the child – and anyone in their household or others they have been in close contact with – may have to self-isolate for ten days depending on their vaccination status. School authorities should also be informed.
 TREATMENT: Your child may need Calpol if they have a temperature and appear very unwell.
“Treat the child, not the number,” Dr Kaye says. “If your child has a temperature of 38.5C and you’re waiting for your PCR result, but they are running around, eating, drinking and peeing as normal, you do not need to treat that fever with paracetamol.
“If the child has a lower temperature but they are not drinking and seem unwell, then that is when to treat with paracetamol.
“Make sure they drink plenty of fluids. If you are concerned, please seek medical advice.”
THIS has nothing to do with hand, foot and mouth disease in animals. It’s a viral disease most commonly found in children under ten.
It is passed on by coughs and sneezes in much the same way as a cold.
“It causes a fever and your child will feel generally unwell for a few days,”
Dr Kaye says. “Typically, they will get blisters on the hands, feet and in the mouth but it can occur elsewhere on the body too.
“In the mouth, the lesions will look greyish-white.
“Your child won’t need to stay off school unless they have a temperature.”
TREATMENT: No treatment required – it will go away on its own after seven to ten days.
CHICKENPOX is common in children and usually gets better in one to two weeks without needing to see a GP.
“Chickenpox tends to crop up more in the spring but as rates were low last year it could be more prevalent this autumn,” Dr Kaye says.
“It’s a viral infection that causes tiny blisters on a red/pink background.
After a while they crust over.
“Usually a child feels unwell before the rash starts, often with a temperature or decreased appetite.
“Once the spots appear you may notice they start to feel better though the spots may be very itchy.
“You can’t go back to school until all the spots have crusted over, usually at least five days after they first appeared.”
 TREATMENT: Calamine or aloe vera gel or a treatment called ViraSoothe may help relieve the itching. Oatmeal baths may also provide relief.
THIS is a common condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting and it’s usually caused by a bacterial or viral tummy bug.
It affects people of all ages but is especially common in young children.
“If your child has diarrhoea and is vomiting, the key is to get them to drink, drink, drink,” Dr Kaye says. “Give your child fluid, little and often.
“You could even go down to 5ml every five minutes as a fluid challenge.
“You can use water or Dioralyte.”
If your child spits out the water, Dr Kaye advises using a syringe and putting water in the gap between the lower teeth and cheek.
“Don’t put it all in one go but that should help stop them spitting it straight back out,” she says. “If they can’t tolerate that amount of fluid, you need to go to A&E.
“If they can, gradually increase the amount you give them until they are drinking normally.”
 TREATMENT: Regular fluids and oral rehydration sachets, available from pharmacies.
See a GP if diarrhoea continues for more than seven days or vomiting for more than two, or if your child has bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom.
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