Keeping Catchy Infections Contained
How to care for someone without getting sick yourself.
By Leanna Skarnulis
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Are you caring for someone who has a contagious infection? Good luck. Taking precautions to protect yourself at this point can be like closing the barn door after the horse got out.
People are often too late to guard against infection because they were probably exposed to the disease before symptoms appeared. For example, flu can be contagious about a day prior to the onset of symptoms, while strep throat can be contagious as much as five days prior to onset.
Children who are normally healthy are ill about five days each year. Their illnesses are likely to be flu, pink eye, gastroenteritis, and other contagious diseases, which readily spread to other members of the family.
What to Watch Out For
Controlling contagions and getting kids back to school as soon as they were well was the reason the role of school nurse was created more than 100 years ago. "School nurses have been behind vaccinations that have reduced or eliminated diseases such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio," says Wanda Miller, RN, MA, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) in Castle Rock, Colo.