KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – Greenback School in Loudon County was closed this week due to absenteeism.
More than 26 percent of schools students and faculty were sick on Wednesday, due to upper respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.
“That probably tells you there's a virus going around in that community,” said Dr. Roger Brooksbank who practices pediatric emergency medicine at UT Medical Center. “By coughing or drinking after someone or not good hand-washing, it will spread it amongst the group."
According to Dr. Brooksbank, illnesses can be hard to prevent among children this time of year.
There are more than 250 different types of cold viruses going around, and elementary school students average of six to eight colds a year.
But there are some things you can do to help prevent your child from coming down with something.
First, you should avoid contact between your child and children who are sick.
If they do come down with something, keep them home, and encourage them to cover their mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Also discourage your child from touching his or her eyes, nose or mouth, since germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated.
Finally, and most importantly, teach them to wash their hands often, especially after touching someone who is sick.
"That typically means you've got to get under the sink with soap and water and physically wash your hands and spend some time doing that,” said Dr. Brooksbank. “You can't do that in two seconds, you've got to be able to spend some time doing that."
Vitamin C may also help provide a boost to their immune system?
"Vitamin C can be given to kids who don't eat well, such as eating one meal a day or two,” said Dr. Brooksbank. “For that, the vitamin will help supplement what they need for growth."
Cold and flu season runs through March, so it's important that you stay vigilant so your child can stay healthy.
Colds typically last for one week, but often linger in children.
Remember, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, so prevention is that much more important.