Medical Matters

Latest Health Matters

Whooping cough (updated 4 May 2012)

We have been notified of a case of whooping cough within the school community prior to Easter. The infectious period is over in this case but, we thought you should be aware that whooping cough is on the rise. In fact, there have been 665 reported cases in the UK between January and March this year.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It starts with an irritating cough which becomes prolonged, uncontrollable and can lead to vomiting or choking. The name comes from the distinctive “whoop” sound made when the sufferer breathes in, although in some cases this sound is not always noted. Other symptoms include a runny nose and a raised temperature. It is spread by airborne droplets which are caused through coughing and sneezing. Whooping cough usually affects babies and young children, although teenagers and adults can develop the condition. Whooping cough tends to be most severe in young babies.

One of the thoughts as to why there is a rise in this disease is due to parents not completing their child’s immunisation regime. Whooping cough (pertussis) immunisation is given at two, three and four months, followed by a pre-school booster between three and five.

As always we advise that you seek the advice of your GP if your son has a persistent cough that appears more than the common cold or if you display any of the symptoms mentioned above or if you have been in contact with someone with the illness.

For further details of whooping cough, please visit the following link:
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Whooping-cough/Pages/Introduction.aspx
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/22/who-needs-whooping-cough-jab


MMR and Measles OUTBREAK
(updated 21 June 2011)

We have been advised by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to alert all parents about  the risk of outbreaks of measles in Europe. France is currently experiencing a large outbreak of measles with over 4000 cases reported this year.

Outbreaks have been reported in countries bordering France and in other parts of Europe. http://www.euvac.net/graphics/euvac/pdf/2011 jan feb.pdf

Since the start of 2011, the HPA have seen a large increase in confirmed measles cases across England and Wales. Cases are associated with either recent travel abroad or small clusters in mainly unvaccinated children and young adults between the ages of 10-24.

There is an increased risk that your child  may catch measles, if they are not protected against the disease, when travelling abroad especially if they are staying with local families and mixing with the local population.

Unless your child has already received two doses of vaccine, the HPA advise that you obtain an MMR vaccination before travelling to mainland Europe either as part of an organised school trip or family holiday.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the safest way to protect against measles, mumps and rubella which are diseases that can have serious consequences. Not all people respond adequately to a single dose of vaccine, so to ensure greater protection, people need to receive two doses of MMR.

In the UK two doses of MMR are usually given, the first around 12 months and the second at time of school entry. If your child has never had MMR, please contact your GP to give the first dose as soon as possible, ideally at least two weeks prior to travel. If you child has only had one dose of MMR a second dose will improve the level of protection.

If you require further information either contact your GP or visit
http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Measles/
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Measles/Pages/Introductions.aspx

 
SEASONAL INFLUENZA & SWINE FLU (
updated 5th January 2011)

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by the type A flu (H1N1) virus.  Unfortunately schools provide the perfect environment for children to mix and spread the virus. With this mind it is important that if your child shows any flu like symptoms you must keep him away from school and follow the Health Protection Agency guidelines listed below:

  • If you have access to the internet you can check your symptoms using the NHS Direct symptom checker
  • If you don't have access to the internet or are still concerned, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or your GP.

 

Health Protection Advice

General hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the Influenza virus. This includes:
  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible
  • Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully
  • Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face or to other people
  • Cleaning hard surfaces (such as door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.


For further details on Seasonal Influenza including symptoms, treatment and returning to school CLICK HERE

For further details on Swine Flu and returning to school CLICK HERE

QEH will continue to be led by the Health Protection Agency and the Local Authority with any issues regarding to Swine Flu or other infectious diseases.

 

The Great Outdoors

From late Spring through to early autumn, we all start to venture outdoors to enjoy those precious moments of good weather. However, we are not the only ones…. Ticks too seem to enjoy the warmer weather. The Health Protection Agency is advising people to take care when visiting areas where ticks are present, to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of Lyme disease.

Ticks are tiny spider like creatures found in grassy or wooded areas. They attach themselves to passing animals (both domestic and wild) and people, whereupon they latch on for several days.

The Health Protection Agency has provided some guidelines on both prevention and treatment of tick bites.

TO PREVENT TICK BITES:
• Wear long sleeved tops and trousers which can be tucked into socks
• Avoid sandals and open toed shoes
• Use insect repellent
• Use tick collars and treatments on domestic pets
• Stick to paths and avoid walking through dense vegetation
• Inspect skin regularly, especially in skin folds, head and neck areas
• Check clothing for stray ticks
• Check pets regularly and thoroughly.

Many of our students are involved in outdoor pursuits such as Ten Tors and Duke of Edinburgh and I am sure a few of you enjoy camping. With these in mind I have attached some useful links on further prevention and treatment.
www.hpa.org.uk or www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/tickleaflet.pdf

 
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