Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is here! Pittsburgh Public Schools wants to ensure that every student, family and staff member is healthy throughout this season. Please read the information below as a guide to prevent your family from contracting or spreading the cold, flu, Enterovirus D68 and other common illnesses.
If your child(ren) becomes ill, please seek immediate medical attention. If your child(ren) misses school due to the illness, please make sure they return with an excused note for their absences.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Enterovirus D68?
The virus, which began spreading rapidly across the U.S. this fall, has led to severe respiratory infections and is believed to be directly responsible for at least one child's death. From mid-August to Oct. 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 594 cases of EV-D68, primarily in children, across 43 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to the one confirmed death, four other people who have had the virus have also died, though it isn't immediately clear how much of a role the EV-D68 played in those instances.
"Enterovirus" is the name given to a range of more than 100 viruses, which often cause nothing worse than a bad summer cold. The virus causes between 10 to 15 million infections a year in the U.S., with a peak of infections toward the end of summer and beginning of fall.
What are its symptoms?
According to the CDC, symptoms of EV-D68 include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body and muscle aches. Wheezing and difficulty breathing may be indicative of more severe infections. In extreme cases, there may be a link between EV-68 and muscle paralysis, but health officials aren't quite sure yet. If EV-D68 is responsible for paralysis it has been in very, very rare cases only.
Who is most at risk?
Children with asthma are most likely to develop severe respiratory infections as a result of Enterovirus 68; but infants, children and teenagers are also at risk. Adults who have likely come in contact with one of the more than 100 other strains of enterovirus will experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
I think I or my child might have EV-D68. What should I do?
If you or your child are having trouble breathing, visit the doctor immediately, especially if any underlying conditions like asthma are present, or if the condition is getting worse. There is no treatment for the virus, but in most cases the symptoms can be managed without requiring a trip to the hospital.
What preventative measures can I take?
This strain of enterovirus spreads much like the common cold, which means that frequently washing your hands can lower your odds of getting sick. If you have to cough, use proper hygiene and cough into a tissue (which you then dispose) or your upper sleeve -- not your hands.
What sort of flu season is expected this year?
It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season usually varies from one season to another.
Will new flu viruses circulate this season?
Flu viruses are constantly changing so it's not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. For more information about how flu viruses change, visit How the Flu Virus Can Change.
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.
What should I do to prepare for this flu season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.
For more information about the cold and flu season, please visit the Center for Disease Control official website by clicking HERE.