Children share more than just a classroom at school
School-aged children spend several hours per day in the classroom in close proximity to one another. That proximity means that, in addition to sharing their time in the classroom, students often share their illnesses.
Many parents understand that kids may come home from school with more than just homework. Communicable diseases and parasites may accompany kids home, and while every sniffle or fever cannot be prevented, there are ways parents can reduce their child’s risk of coming home from school with an ailment passed on by a classmate. The first step toward reducing that risk is understanding some of the more common ailments.
Few children survive school without enduring at least one outbreak of lice. Lice are tiny parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. Head lice are about two to three millimeters in length (about the size of a sesame seed). A female louse can produce between seven and 10 eggs, known as nits, per day. The nits will hatch and repeat the process of the adults.
Having lice is not an indication of poor hygiene. It just means you have come into contact with someone with lice and have contracted the parasite. Sharing brushes, pillows, hats, and head-to-head contact with someone who has lice facilitates transmission.
Many old wives’ tales discuss how to keep lice from getting into the hair. None of these methods are necessarily effective. Should lice climb aboard, it is essential to remove all of the nits and adult lice through careful combing and to reduce the numbers of lice until they die off. In extreme cases, a doctor may recommend a medicated shampoo.
The Mayo Clinic says infectious mononucleosis, commonly shortened to “mono,” is known as the kissing disease. Epstein-Barr virus, the virus that causes mono, is transmitted through saliva. It can be spread through kissing, but also by sharing cups and straws or if saliva is expelled through sneezing or coughing.