The flu was nearly nonexistent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but is now making a significant comeback and earlier in the year than normal. Many students have already been affected and many more will be. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) recommend early testing for those who are symptomatic to differentiate the flu from COVID-19. Also, most antiviral medications against the flu are most effective if started in the first 48 hours.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that is transmitted through respiratory droplets, direct contact, and by touching contaminated surfaces. For most children, RSV produces mild illness. However, children under two years old are especially susceptible to RSV and are at increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization. It is important to note that many school-age children have siblings at home who may be younger and more susceptible to severe illness and hospitalization. The ways we can prevent the spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses are familiar and include frequent and thorough hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, masking, and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
Monkeypox is passed from person to person by close physical contact (not just sexual), but unlike some other disorders affecting skin, it remains infectious until all scabs are gone and the skin is dry. As such, very precise and accurate diagnosis of skin lesions, particularly in high-contact sports such as wrestling, is important. We continue to advocate for early testing and treatment of students who are ill as well as close collaboration with local and state health departments during times of outbreaks. Most importantly, prevention is the hallmark in controlling these illnesses in our students. With OHA’s announcement this Fall of pediatric mpox (monkeypox) cases in Oregon, it’s important to share information on tools available to manage this illness.
OHA State Epidemiologist - Contact at any time for assistance at971-673-1111.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
There has been a notable increase in outbreaks of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Oregon this year, particularly this fall. HFMD is an infection caused by a virus. Although HFMD is common in children younger than five, several recent outbreaks have involved high school or junior high students, including student-athletes. Common symptoms of HFMD include fever, mouth sores, and rash (commonly on the hands and feet). HFMD spreads through fluids spread through coughs and sneezes, fluids from blisters or scabs, contact with feces, contact with objects and surfaces that have the virus on them. Most people with HFMD recover on their own in seven to 10 days. Treatment of HFMD is symptom-based: drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration and use over-the-counter medication to relieve fever and pain from mouth sores.