Communicable Diseases

Some sore throats are caused by streptococcus and will need antibiotic treatment. The only way to be sure if the sore throat is caused by strep is to have a rapid strep test or throat culture done. This is a simple test that can be done in your physician's office.

If your child has or develops one or more of the symptoms listed below with the sore throat it may be a strep throat: 

  • Fever

  • Spots on tonsils or throat

  • Nausea

  • Rash

  • Feels or seems ill

  • Vomiting

  • Aches

  • Swollen or tender nodes in neck

  • Abdominal pain

If any of these symptoms are present, call your child's physician for advice. Early and adequate treatment can help prevent the spread of the illness or serious complications like rheumatic fever, kidney damage, heart disease or arthritis.

Once appropriate therapy is started your child should start feeling better in a day or two and will not be considered contagious.

Your child's rapid and complete recovery can be helped by following these guidelines: 


  • Each dose of medicine should be taken as prescribed

  • Do not save any antibiotic for later use

  • Never share antibiotics with others

  • Encourage plenty of liquids and adequate rest

  • CALL THE PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF: Your child does not improve in a day or two, gets worse, reacts to the medication (rash, diarrhea, etc.) 

For more information:
Click Here- Is Your Sore Throat Strep?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets that are made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. You may be able to pass the flu to others before you know that you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins,  some individuals may infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time. The time from when a person is exposed to the flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue (very tired)

  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

 CDC recommendations to help in flu prevention include:

  • Getting a flu vaccination each year

  • Staying away from people who are sick

  • Covering your coughs and sneezes

  • Frequent handwashing

  • Staying home from work or school if you are sick

It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other viral or bacterial causes of respiratory illnesses on the basis of symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. If you suspect that you have the flu, talk with your healthcare provider about testing and treatment.

Flu shots are available through your healthcare provider, area clinics, pharmacies, and Cameron County Health Department.

Students, staff and parents with flu-like symptoms should stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).

Please notify the campus nurse at your school if your child is home with the flu. This will assist the District and Cameron County Health Department in monitoring the spread of the flu. 

For more information visit:

Information for Schools and Childcare Providers
Seasonal Flu Vaccines

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus "MRSA"

Methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus Aureus(MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections.

Staphylococcus Aureus "Staph"

Staphylococcus aureus (pronounced staff-ill-oh-KOK-us AW-ree-us), or "Staph" is a very common germ that about 1 out of every 3 people have on their skin or in their nose. This germ does not cause any problems for most people who have it on their skin. But sometimes it can cause serious infections such as skin or wound infections, pneumonia, or infections of the blood.

For more information on MRSA and Staph visit:
Centers for Disease Control: MRSA

What is meningitis? Meningitis is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord---also called the meninges. It can be caused by viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Viral (aseptic) meningitis is common; most people recover fully. Medical management of viral meningitis consists of supportive treatment and there is usually no indication for the use of antibiotics. Parasitic and fungal meningitis are very rare. Bacterial meningitis is very serious and may involve complicated medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, and life support management.

There are two common types of bacteria that cause meningitis:

  • Strep pneumoniae causes pneumococcal meningitis; there are over 80 subtypes that cause illness

  • Neisseria meningitidis–meningococcal meningitis; there are 5 subtypes that cause serious illness–A, B, C, Y, W-135

What are the symptoms? Someone with meningitis will become very ill. The illness may develop over one or two days, but it can also rapidly progress in a matter of hours. Not everyone with meningitis will have the same symptoms.

Children (over 1 year old) and adults with meningitis may have: 

  • Severe headache

  • High temperature

  • Vomiting

  • Sensitivity to bright lights

  • Neck stiffness, joint pains

  • Drowsiness or confusion *In both children and adults, there may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots or bruises caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body. They are a sign of blood poisoning (septicemia), which sometimes happens with meningitis, particularly the meningococcal strain.

How serious is bacterial meningitis? If it is diagnosed early and treated promptly, the majority of people make a complete recovery. In some cases it can be fatal or a person may be left with a permanent disability, such as deafness, blindness, amputations or brain damage (resulting in mental retardation or paralysis) even with prompt treatment.

How is bacterial meningitis spread? Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. The germs live naturally in the back of our noses and throats, but they do not live for long outside the body. They are spread when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing; sharing drinking containers, utensils or cigarettes).

The germ does not cause meningitis in most people. Instead most people become carriers of the germ for days, weeks or even months. Being a carrier helps to stimulate your body’s natural defense system. The bacteria rarely overcomes the body’s immune system to cause meningitis or other serious illness.

What is the risk of getting bacterial meningitis? The risk of getting bacterial meningitis in all age groups is about 2.4 cases per 100,000 people per year. However, the highest risk group for the most serious form of the disease, meningococcal meningitis, is among children 2 to 18 years old.

How is bacterial meningitis diagnosed? The diagnosis is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood. Spinal fluid is obtained by a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).

How can bacterial meningitis be prevented?  Do not share food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes, or cigarettes. Limit the number of persons you kiss.

Vaccines against pneumococcal disease are recommended both for young children and adults over 64. A vaccine against four meningococcal serogroups (A, C, Y, W-135) is available. These four groups cause the majority of meningococcal cases in the United States. This vaccine is required for students entering 7th grade. The vaccine is safe and effective. It can cause mild side effects, such as redness and pain at the injection site lasting up to two days. Immunity develops within 7 to 10 days after the vaccine is given and lasts for up to 5 years.

What should you do if you think you or a friend might have bacterial meningitis? Seek prompt medical attention.

For more information

Your school nurse, family doctor, and the staff at your local or regional health department office are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases. Additional information may also be found on the Centers of Disease Control website and at the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Click the links below to learn more:
What You Need to Know About: Meningococcal Meningitis
Meningococcal Vaccinations

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After cough fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a "whooping sound". Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated.

Pertussis spreads from person to person by exposure to another person’s respiratory secretions by coughing, sneezing, or sharing breathing space. Many babies who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents, or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Infected people are most contagious up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious.

While pertussis vaccines are the most effective tool to prevent this disease, no vaccine is 100% effective. When pertussis circulates in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this disease. If you have gotten the pertussis vaccine but still get sick, the infection is usually not as bad.

Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens, and adults. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5 to 10 days after you are exposed. Sometimes pertussis symptoms do not develop for as long as 3 weeks. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. In babies, the cough can be minimal or not even there. Babies may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. About half of babies younger than 1 year who get the disease need care in the hospital.

During the first few week's pertussis has the appearance of a common cold:

  • Mild cough

  • Fever

  • Runny nose

  • Low-grade fever

  • Apnea – a pause in breathing in babies

As the disease progresses:

  • Paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched "whooping" sound

  • Vomiting during coughing

  • Exhaustion after coughing fits

The “whoop” is often not there if you have milder (less serious) disease. The infection is generally milder in teens and adults, especially those who have gotten the pertussis vaccine.

Healthcare providers generally treat pertussis with antibiotics and early treatment is very important. Treatment may make your infection less serious if you start it early, before coughing fits begin. Treatment can also help prevent the spreading of the disease to close contacts (people who have spent a lot of time around the infected person). Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause serious and sometimes deadly complications in babies and young children, especially those who have not received all recommended pertussis vaccines. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get pertussis need care in the hospital. The younger the baby, the more likely they will need treatment in the hospital. Students diagnosed with pertussis are excluded from school until a five-day course of antibiotics has been completed.

To protect yourself and other children and adults you should stay current on your pertussis vaccinations. If you have a cough that is not going away or getting worse or if you are interested in vaccination, please talk with your healthcare provider. 

More information can be found at:
Protect Against Pertussis and Learn More About the Whooping Cough