Common School Illnesses

--Before, during, and after preparing food

--Before eating

--After using the bathroom

--After changing a diaper

--After handling animals, their toys, leashes, or waste

--After contact with blood or body fluids, such as vomit, nasal secretions, or saliva

--When your hands are dirty

--Before dressing a wound, giving medicine, or inserting contact lenses.

--More frequently if someone in your home is sick

--Whenever they look dirty

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How to wash:

--Wet hands and apply soap.

--Rub hands vigorously for 10 seconds. Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice.

--Rinse hands under running water.

--Dry hands with a paper towel or air dryer.

--If possible, use your paper towel to turn off faucet.

--If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based wipe or hand gel.

Besides proper hand washing, kids should learn not to share eating utensils or drinks. Garcia adds, "It's very important for kids to eat breakfast and get enough rest. Establish regular bedtimes. Teens, in particular, need more sleep than they get."

Six Serious Symptoms You Can't Ignore

The Latest on Immunizations

Thanks to universal vaccinations over several generations, dreaded diseases such as smallpox, polio, and diphtheria are rarely encountered in the Western world. But some diseases such as whooping cough and mumps have made a resurgence.

Perhaps the best news is there's now a booster vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis). "We've seen an increasing number of kids with whooping cough in middle school and high school in the past 15 years," says Posner. "It used to be that we couldn’t give booster shots after age 5, and by age 12, the effectiveness had waned."

Commenting on the cases of mumps on college campuses, Posner says, "Of all the vaccines, the mumps vaccine has the least take. We now give the vaccine twice -- at 12 months and again at age 4. It may be that college kids who got mumps didn't get the second dose." He adds that chickenpox (varicella) also is making a comeback. "Soon there will be a recommendation to repeat the chickenpox vaccination, as well."

A summer shortage of a vaccine against meningitis -- meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) -- caused the CDC and AAP to agree to defer recommended vaccination for kids aged 11 and 12. "Residential colleges are requiring students to be vaccinated, and the demand for vaccine was underestimated," says Posner. "Freshmen living in dorms are at the highest risk."

For children whose immunizations were up to date upon entering kindergarten, these are some vaccinations that may be due or administered if they were missed earlier according to the CDC’s "Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule, U.S., 2006":

Hepatitis A (HepA) series. If not already vaccinated.

Hepatitis B series. If not already vaccinated

Measles, mumps, rubella. If not already completed.

Varicella (chickenpox). If not already vaccinated.

Influenza (flu). This changes every year.

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) booster.

Pneumococcal vaccine. If not already vaccinated.

Meningococcal vaccine. Unvaccinated students entering high school; college freshman living in dormitories.

WebMD Tool: Childhood Immunization Planner

By Leanna Skarnulis, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: Amy Garcia, RN, executive director, and Marian Smithey, nursing education director, National Association of School Nurses, Silver Spring, Md. Michael Posner, MD, FAAP, spokesman, American Academy of Pediatrics, West Springfield, Mass. American Academy of Pediatrics web site. CDC: "Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule, U.S., 2006"; "An Ounce of Prevention Keeps the Germs Away" brochure. WebMD Feature: "Keeping Catchy Infections Contained."

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