Health in the schools
Parents visited by health nurse

Kirsten Larsen
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/99) - Whooping cough, head lice and impetigo were on the agenda during a regular Positive Parenting meeting at NJ Macpherson, March 31.

Laurie Vallillee, a public health nurse with Yellowknife Health and Social Services talked to parents about the common childhood illnesses and infections that are frequently passed around in the schools.

Vallillee said that the recent bout of the flu is subsiding, but the illness that parents should continue to watch out for is whooping cough.

"In March and February there was a slight increase in numbers (of whooping cough cases)," said Vallillee.

"It's out there but it certainly isn't an epidemic," said Vallillee. "It is being monitored."

Vallillee said that if a case is found in a school the school is notified and notice is sent out to the students in the class. The student with whooping cough is given antibiotics and asked to stay home for five days.

The parents at the meeting questioned why whooping cough was spreading when children are immunized against it as babies and in kindergarten.

"Immunization is not always 100 per cent effective and as they (children) get older immunity gets weaker," said Vallillee.

Another common child health concern which is constantly monitored in the schools is head lice, which Vallillee said has become less of a problem over the last few years. Vallillee said parents are more aware of what to watch for and how to prevent and treat cases.

Impetigo and scabies, although not on the rise in schools, are also necessary to control and be aware of.

"Impetigo is a bacteria that gets into an opening in the skin most often in kids with cold sores," said Vallillee. "It forms a scab and then breaks open."

Vallillee said that a mild case of impetigo can be treated easily with cleansing and a prescribed antibiotic. Treating scabies, which is a rash and scabbing on the skin caused by a bug that burrows under the skin, requires a little more care.

"It is still fairly easy but it needs a special ointment and cream," said Vallillee.

Because scabies is caused by a bug, and gets into bed covers and clothes, it is important to wash them in hot temperature settings and frequently while the infected child is being medicated.