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Appendix E: Communicable Infections/Infestations - Information for Parents

Name of Infection Symptoms Treatment Notify School Keep Child at Home Other Comments
Chicken Pox (Varicella) An infection starting with a cold, headache and temperature. Small red pimples appear on the body first then on the limbs changing to yellow blisters that then scab and drop off after about 12 days. Calamine or soothing solution to relieve itching.

See your doctor if concerned.

Highly advisable. The school needs to be aware of contagious illnesses in the community. Also advise that your child will be absent. Your child will need to be at home until at least 5 days after the last spot appears or until well. (Some scabs may still be present when your child returns to school). Incubation period from 2 to 3 weeks, commonly 13 to 17 days.

Incubation period: the time between exposure to an infection and appearance of the first symptoms.

Conjunctivitis Infection of the eye - eye is red and weepy and often has a discharge. Usually forms dry yellowish crust on eyelashes after sleep. Highly contagious. Drops or ointment prescribed by your doctor. Highly advisable. The school needs to be aware of contagious illnesses in affected students. Also advise that your child will be absent. Your child will need to be at home until your doctor treats the eye and the discharge from eyes has ceased.  
Diarrhoea Frequent, loose motions often accompanied with a feeling of unwellness and vomiting. There are many causes. If diarrhoea is persistent (more than 2 days) see your doctor. Advise the school that your child will be absent. Your child will be feeling unwell so will need to be at home until the diarrhoea has ceased. Extra fluids need to be taken by mouth. Extra attention to hand washing is important to prevent further infection.
Diphtheria Rare in Australia since the effective use of vaccination. A disease affecting the nose, tonsils and throat passages with symptoms of sore throat, swollen neck glands and discharge from the nose. See your doctor for diagnosis and specific treatment. Advise the school that your child will be absent. Your child will need to be at home until a medical certificate of recovery is received. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule
German Measles (Rubella) A viral infection usually starting with a fine rash on the body. The child is off colour and there may be some swelling of glands in the neck. Bed rest.

See your doctor if concerned.

Highly advisable because it is contagious. Rubella can cause deformities in babies if acquired during pregnancy. Female staff of child-bearing age should ensure their immune status is adequate. Even if your child does appear well, he/she may not attend school for four days after the rash appeared. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule
Glandular Fever An infectious illness caused by a virus. May have tender swollen glands, high temperature, headache, sore throat and loss of appetite. See your doctor for diagnosis and specific treatment. Advisable because the school needs to be aware of infectious illnesses in affected students. Advise the school that your child may be absent for a while. Your child will possibly feel unwell and need to stay at home until feeling better. Can attend school if feeling well. Your child may feel weak or tired for some time.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Hib was the most frequent life threatening infection in children before introduction of the vaccine. Can causes meningitis (fever, vomiting, headache, irritability, neck stiffness), pneumonia and infection of the joints. See your doctor for diagnosis and specific treatment. Advisable because the school needs to be aware of infectious illnesses in affected students. Advise the school that your child will be absent for a while. Your child will need to stay at home until a medical certificate of recovery is received. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule
Hand, Foot and Mouth A viral infection, mostly in young children. The child is mildly unwell with blisters in mouth and on hands and feet. Soothing lotion or bath for rash.

See your doctor if concerned.

Advisable because it can spread in the classroom situation. Your child should stay home if she/he is feeling unwell. It is important for children to follow good hand washing and cleaning techniques.
Head Lice
(pediculosis)
Small insects that live on the head that feed by sucking blood. Their eggs (nits) stick tightly to the hair. Guidelines on head lice treatment     Remember, head lice are a nuisance, and are sometimes a source of embarrassment, but not a condition with a significant level of health risk.
Hepatitis Inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is spread by food, drinks & water contaminated with infectious faecal matter. Hepatitis B is sexually transmitted & the virus can be present in all bodily fluids of an infectious person. Hepatitis C caused by blood to blood contact and occurs when infected blood enters another personís blood system through broken skin or mucous membrane. See your doctor for specific treatment and advice. Parents must advise the school of Hepatitis A because of its highly infectious nature.

You do not have to tell anyone if your child is Hep B & C positive. If you do choose to tell anyone at school, then the information cannot be passed on unless you have given written permission.

Hepatitis A virus is excreted in the faeces for up to 2 weeks before the onset of illness & for at least 1 week afterwards. Your child will be infectious for a week after the onset of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) & must be kept at home for at least this period. Immunisation - Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended. Hep B vaccination is now part of the childhood immunisation regime in all states of Australia.
HIV/AIDS AIDS is a condition in which the immune system, the body's natural defence against disease is attacked. HIV is the name of the virus that can cause AIDS. See your doctor for management and advice. You do not have to tell anyone if your child is HIV positive. If you do choose to tell anyone at school, then the information cannot be passed on unless you have given written permission. Your child may attend school unless feeling unwell. The HIV positive child is at risk of infection from other children's illnesses so may need to be kept at home if there is an outbreak of infectious illnesses (eg measles, flu). There is no evidence that HIV/AIDS is spread from child to child in schools through normal social contact.
Measles An acute viral infection. Most people are quite ill, with fever, tiredness, coughing, runny nose, inflamed eyes and a dislike of light. A blotchy rash appears between the 3rd and 7th day and spreads over the whole body. A blood test is the most accurate way to diagnose measles. Bed rest. See your doctor if concerned.

Non immunised contacts need to be excluded. Advice should be sought from the Department of Health and Human Services, 1800 671 738.

It is highly infectious so school should be advised.

Immunisation can be offered to contacts in times of epidemic.

Your child has to stay at home until 5 days after the rash appears - or until your child is well. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule
Meningitis Inflammation of the lining of the brain due to bacterial or viral infections. Your child is unwell with headache, fever and neck stiffness. Can be life-threatening, but one type (HIB) can be prevented through immunisation See your doctor for treatment.

Family and school contacts may also need treatment to prevent infection.

It is advisable because some types of meningitis can be contagious and your child will be absent from school for a period of time. It is likely your child will feel unwell so will need to spend some time at home. All children under 5 should be vaccinated with HIB Infection Immunisation.
Mumps A viral infection causing a general unwell feeling. The glands between the ears and jaw bone become swollen and sore. It may affect one or both sides. In adult males it may affect the testicles. Bed rest and drink plenty of fluids

See your doctor if concerned.

Highly advisable as with all infectious conditions. Your child has to stay at home for 9 days after he/she first became unwell or until swelling goes down (whichever is sooner). Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule.
Poliomyelitis
(Polio)
A viral infection fortunately now rare as the result of immunisation.

Polio may cause mild symptoms or very severe illness. It is a gastrointestinal virus that causes fever, vomiting and muscle stiffness, and can affect the nerves and cause permanent crippling.

See your doctor for treatment. Polio is still a problem in countries overseas. It is highly contagious so the school should be informed. Your child will have to be away from school for at least 2 weeks from the onset of the illness. A medical certificate stating that the child is ready for return to school is necessary. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule.
Ringworm A ring shaped, very itchy fungal skin infection that is contagious. Ointment obtained from chemist or doctor. It is advisable because ringworm can be passed on to other children in the class. Your child must stay at home until the day after treatment from your doctor or chemist has commenced.  
Scabies A very itchy, red skin infection caused by an itch mite. The itching is often more intense when very warm in bed. Application of recommended lotion as per directions. All household members must be treated at the same time. You should advise the school because scabies are easily passed from person to person by contact. Your child must stay at home until the day after treatment from your doctor or chemist has commenced. Itching may continue for several days. This does not mean that treatment has been ineffective.
School Sores
(Impetigo)
A very contagious skin infection. Starts as a red patch and develops into crusty yellow sores. See your doctor for treatment. You should advise the school because school sores are highly infectious and can spread quickly throughout your child's class. Your child must stay at home until treatment from your doctor has commenced. Sores on exposed areas must be covered with a dressing.  
Slapped Cheek Syndrome
(Fifth Disease)
A mild viral disease mainly occurring in late winter and early spring. Symptoms are fever, red cheeks and an itchy, lace like rash occurring on the body and limbs. Infected person often has a runny nose and sore throat. Virus gets passed through contact with respiratory droplets from the nose and throat of an infected individual. No specific treatment exists for this illness. Complications are rare, however those with blood disorders or weakened immune systems should, where possible, avoid exposure to potentially infected persons. Those caring for infected children are advised to wash hands frequently and avoid sharing utensils.   Those infected donít need to be excluded from school because the most infectious period is before the rash appears and the diagnosis is made. Good hand washing practices, not sharing food, utensils or handkerchiefs will assist in controlling the spread of this virus.

Surfaces contaminated by respiratory secretions need to be cleaned thoroughly.

Pregnant women should consult with their doctor if they have any concerns.

Tetanus Caused by bacteria that can contaminate punctured wounds, cuts or burns. The disease attacks the nervous system, causing muscular spasms first felt in the neck and jaw muscles See your doctor for treatment.     Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule.
Whooping Cough
(Pertussis)
A respiratory infection which can be very serious in infants. The cough usually persists for weeks.

It is prevented through immunisation with 'triple antigen'.

See your doctor for immediate treatment. You should advise the school. It is very contagious and all contacts should be informed.

Advice should be sought from the Department of Health and Human Services 1800 671 738, Public and Environmental Health Service.

Your child will be excluded from school for at least 5 days after antibiotic treatment has started and until well. Unimmunised family members under 7 years may also be excluded from school until they have received a course of antibiotics. Immunisation is available and recommended in accordance with the current Immunisation Schedule.

Close contacts (eg family members) should receive a course of antibiotics.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have recommended immunisation schedules. For information you can phone the Immunisation Infoline on 1800 671 811 (freecall). Further information can also be found at the Immunise Australia website http://immunise.health.gov.au

Another website to visit is the State government's Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/

Original location of this page: http://www.education.tas.gov.au/equitystandards/disability/health/e.htm  
(Department of Education)