CPS, CDPH Remind Families to Take Steps to Prevent Spreading Enterovirus 

Pediatricians Provide Sensible Tips for Parents and Students During Cold and Flu Season

September 11, 2014

Chicago Department of Public Health
Ryan Gage

Chicago Public Schools

Officials from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today provided students, parents and the general public with tips to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, including enterovirus (EV 68), which has impacted students in Illinois and across the Midwest.

"CPS encourages sick children to stay home to avoid risking getting their classmates sick," said Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chief Health Officer. "As always, the Office of Student Health and Wellness is committed to working with parents and families to help provide access to clinicians and health care providers to ensure students are in good health and ready to learn."

Given recent reports of enterovirus (EV D68) in states across the Midwest, CPS and CDPH have joined efforts to educate families so that students can arrive to classrooms safe, healthy and ready to learn. Earlier this week, CPS and CDPH coauthored a memo to provide the public with information about enterovirus, symptoms, and tips for families on healthy practice to prevent illness during cold and flu season. This memo was sent to principals and school staff, encouraging them to share with families as well.

"If we all take these basic precautions, we can help each other stay safe and prevent the spread of illness," said Dr. Stephanie Black, Medical Director for the Communicable Disease program) at CDPH.

Drs. Black and Whyte also encouraged parents to keep in mind these simple steps to protect their children from communicable diseases this season and year round:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands are unwashed.
  • Don't kiss, hug or share food or drinks with someone who is sick.
  • Be sure to clean frequently-touched surfaces including doorknobs and toys.
  • If you are sick, stay home so you don't get other people sick.
  • If your child has asthma, be sure they follow their treatment regimens and contact their healthcare provider if there are any problems.

Enteroviruses are a group of viruses most commonly contracted in summer and fall months, and most typically appear with either no symptoms at all, or with symptoms similar to a mild illness, like a cold. These symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body aches. Less commonly, children may develop difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, which require immediate medical attention. Children with symptoms should be evaluated immediately by a healthcare provider.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 10 to 15 million people contract enterovirus infections in the United States each year, most of which are not serious, and occur seasonally in the summer and fall months. In a very few cases, infections can be serious. While children and adolescents are most likely to become infected by enteroviruses, it is not guaranteed that this virus will not impact adults and elderly. CDPH encourages all residents to practice healthy habits to avoid spreading illness.

For a full list of city clinic locations, please call 3-1-1 or visit the city website: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/dataset/neighborhood_healthclinics.html

Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 664 schools.