Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Image result for spotlight cartoon images Spotlight on Whooping CoughImage result for spotlight cartoon images

Pertussis defined - Pertussis is also known as whooping cough and is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella Pertussis. This illness affects the respiratory tract (organs that help you breath) Pertussis can be very serious, especially in infants.

Spread of Pertussis - Pertussis is spread by breathing in the bacteria that causes the disease.  The germ leaves the infected person's mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. It is mostly spread in the early days of illness.  Infected individuals are no longer contagious after 5 days of antibiotic treatment or about 21 days if no antibiotics are taken.

Symptoms - Symptoms appear between 5 and 21 days after exposure
1. The first signs of pertussis are similar to a cold (sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and cough). After one or two weeks, the cough gets worse.
2. The cough occurs in sudden, uncontrollable clusters where one cough follows another without a break
3. Many children will make a high-pitched whooping noises when breathing in after a coughing episode. Whooping is less common in infants and adults.
4. After coughing, the person may throw up.
5. Between coughing spells, the person seems well, but over time coughing causes fatigue
6. Coughing spells become less frequent, but may continue for several weeks or months.

Prevention - Vaccination is the best way to prevent Pertussis.  Hand washing covering your cough with your elbow and staying home when unwell are also great ways to stay healthy.

What will happen if there is a case at Yarmouth Elementary School? - The school nurse, the school principal, and the superintendent will work closely with the Maine CDC for recommendations.  Seek your family doctor if your suspect you or your child are ill.  The Maine CDC does not currently recommend exclusion for unvaccinated children in the school setting. 

All information obtained from MaineCDC and more information can be found on the MaineCDC pertussis website

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Spotlight on Influenza

Flu Clinic Information:
Yarmouth Elementary School will have a flu vaccination clinic on October 9, 2019, during school hours for students.  Please fill out the vaccine screening and permission form completely for your child to receive the vaccination.  Insurance information is required to students to receive the vaccine.  Please review the linked vaccine information sheets, and contact Alison Thomson, School Nurse at 846-3391 with any questions or concerns.  

FluMist Information Sheet   Flu vaccine information sheet   Health Screening and Permission Form

Influenza Defined
Influenza is a virus that causes mild to severe illness. There are two main types of illness, influenza type A and influenza type B, which are responsible for the flu epidemic each year.  Influenza is a respiratory illness that mainly affects the nose and throat and sometimes the lungs

Symptoms come on quickly and include 

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How is Flu Spread
According to the CDC 8% of the US population becomes ill from influenza each year with children under the age of 18 twice as likely to become sick as those over age 18.  The flu is spread by droplet transmission. Tiny drops leave infected individuals when they sneeze, cough, or talk and land in the eyes mouth or nose of others making them sick. Also, though less common droplets can be transferred from surfaces to hands to mouths or eyes.  

How to Stay Healthy
                                                                  CDC.gov (9/17/19)

1. Get the flu vaccine
  • A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza. (Study was publish in Pediatrics)
  • Flu vaccination prevented an estimated 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations during the 2016-2017 season
2.  Avoid close contact with sick people if possible
3.  Stay home while you are sick. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
4. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
5. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub
6. Do not touch your face                

Monday, April 29, 2019

Bike Safety

Bike Safety
 Image result for bike

Each year, bicycle-related deaths number about 900, and hospital emergency rooms treat more than 500,000 people for bicycle-related injuries. Children, ages 5 to 14, go to hospital emergency rooms more for injuries related to bicycles than with any other sport. Many of these injuries involve the head. If you do not wear a bicycle helmet, you are risking your life.

The State of Maine requires all persons under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle in public ways.

  • Wear a helmet that is made specifically for bicycling and approved by ASTM, CSA or Snell. Never substitute a hockey or baseball helmet for a bicycling helmet. A bicycling helmet is made to absorb a crash differently. It is designed to shatter on impact and soften the impact to your head.
  • If you have been in an accident and your helmet has been hit, don't use it again. Once your helmet has been in an accident, small invisible cracks can weaken its shell and the foam can get crushed. Buy a new helmet!    

Having a helmet on will do little good if it does not fit properly.  Use the fit test below to ensure that the helmet used for your child fits properly to prevent injury. 

Helmet fit test

___ Level - The helmet should be level on the rider's head.
___ Rim barely visible - The front rim should be barely visible to the rider's eye
___ Y below the ear - The Y of the side straps should meet just below the ear
___ Snug strap - The chin strap should be snug against the chin so that when the rider opens their mouth very wide the helmet pulls down a little bit.
___ Skin moves a little - Move the helmet side to side and front to back, watching the skin around the rider's eyebrows. It should move slightly with the helmet. If it does not, the fit pads are probably too thin in front or back, or the helmet may even be too large.
___ Stabilizer snug - If there is a rear stabilizer, adjust it until it is snug under the bulge on the rear of the head.
___ Palm test - Have the rider put their palm on the front of the helmet and push up and back. If it moves more than an inch more fitting is required.
___ Shake test - Have the rider shake their head around. This can be fun. If the helmet dislodges, work on the strap adjustments.
___ Ask about comfort - Ask the rider if the helmet is comfortable and check to make sure there are no comfort issues that still need to be addressed.
___ Be ready to switch - Not all helmets fit all heads. Be prepared to use a different helmet if the one you are fitting just will not work for this rider.

Image result for traffic lightBicycles on the road should follow all traffic laws.  Bikes should signal when turning and slowing down, and riders should be in the correct lane on the road.  Bicycle riders should also follow all speed limit laws.  

For more information, visit this link

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Strep Throat

When GAS Attacks: Not Your Typical Sore Throat

Strep throat is going around this winter/spring. Unlike most sore throats which are caused by viruses, strep throat is a bacterial infection, the culprit: Group A streptococcus, AKA GAS. A bacterial infection will not go away on its own unlike a viral infection. 

So when do we suspect bacterial strep instead of the more common viral infection?

Image result for sick childSuspect strep if:
1. you have a sore throat that comes on quickly
2. severe pain with swallowing
3. fever
4. red and swollen tonsils possibly with white patches, and little red spots on the roof of your mouth

Suspect Viral infection if:
1. Sore throat comes on slowly with a COUGH or other cold symptoms
2. a runny nose
3. pink eye. 

Children are more likely to get strep than adults and suffer from its complications. Children with strep are more likely to have a headache, belly pain, or be queasy along with their sore throats. Young children can have a rash.

Strep Throat diagnosis is made in a doctor's office by a rapid strep test.  If there is a strong suggestion of strep and the rapid is negative, some doctors will send the sample for a culture which takes 2 days to result. Antibiotics are not used unless there is a positive on either test.  If the strep test is positive, the child should have 2 doses of antibiotics, and be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school.

Finish ALL of the antibiotics prescribed.  Stopping antibiotics early can lead to complications and resistant strains of bacteria. 

For more information visit the CDC's strep throat information site here:

CDC strep throat

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Screen Time for Me Time

Screen Time for Me time

As a busy mother of children aged 6 and 8 and working full time, and, I find that my children spend WAY too much time on their electronic devices.  They each have a tablet and the family video game console and then in the evening they are ALWAYS asking, "Can we watch a family movie?" These devices can be life saving while trying to prepare a meal, or work on a project, or complete some extra work around the house.  Turns out, I am not alone.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,The average child, aged 8-10 years old, spends about 6 hours with a recreational screen. And, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun. That’s just the time they spend in front of a screen for entertainment. It doesn’t include the time they spend on the computer or tablet at school for educational purposes or at home for homework.

Turns out, all this screen time has real implications on children. 

 “Taken together, [studies show] internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attentiondecision making, and cognitive control.”  --research authors summarizing neuro-imaging findings in internet and gaming addiction (Lin & Zhou et al, 2012) 

Basically, too much time on electronic devices actually changes the brains of children impacting the ability for executive function. 

Also, screen time is sedentary time, placing children at risk for a host of other health implications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC 

What Can Be Done

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends setting consistent limits for children aged 6-18 on the amount of time and place they get to have screen time. The APA suggest parents involve children in coming up with screen time rules the family can stick to.
For example, 
1. Keep smartphones, tablets and TVs out of bedrooms, 
2. No electronics at the dinner table. 
3. Find other things to do as a family – cook a meal together, play a board game or take a walk around the neighborhood.
4. When engaging screens for family fun, find interactive alternatives.  For example, dance to music or solve mysteries together.

For additional recommendations and linked peer reviewed articles, check out this resource:

For more information see the CDC CDC screen time guidelines and the APA guidelines APA screen time guidelines

Monday, November 26, 2018


Winter Weather is HERE!!

Image result for coldWith winter weather, comes the danger of hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia is most common in severely cold temperatures but as a little know fact, hypothermia can also occur at cool temperatures, or temperatures above 40 degrees, when an individual becomes wet from sweat, or playing in the snow.  At Yarmouth Elementary School, students go outside to play when the REAL FEEL temperature is above 10 degrees.  With this in mind, students should come to school prepared to play outside most days.  Please send hats mittens and boots to school for recess, and snow pants if students plan to play in the snow, all winter long.  Don't forget to send a change of shoes for inside play and SNEAKERS for PE class. A change of clothes, kept in their backpack, is also a very good idea with the playground very wet. 

Together, we can keep the children at YES safe and warm this winter!

Signs of Hypothermia include:
Image result for cold
  • shivering, exhaustion                                                         
  • confusion, fumbling hands
  • memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
  • shivering, exhaustion
  • confusion, fumbling hands

Treatment, seek medical attention if temperature is below 95 degrees. 
    Image result for cold
  • Get out of the cold.
  • Remove all wet clothing.
  • Warm the person up - center of the body first (chest abdomen and head) followed by limbs
  • Warm drinks can be helpful increase body temperature.
  • After body temperature has increased, keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.  


Frostbite is an injury caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures and mostly affects the cheeks, chin, nose, fingers, and toes.

Signs of frostbite include:

  • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy                  
  • numbness

At the first sign of redness or pain in skin, get out of cold, or apply protective clothing

If symptoms of frostbite are present, seek medical attention right away!!

Prevent Hypothermia and Frostbite

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." -Benjamin Franklin

- Stay inside when temperatures are extremely cold
- Wear a weather resistant jacket
- Wear a hat and scarf
- Wear mittens 
- Wear waterproof boots 
- If playing in the snow, wear snow pants

All information recommended by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and more information can be obtained on their website at CDC website on extreme weather

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lice Prevention

Hello Yarmouth Elementary School Families,

With colder weather brings thoughts of warm turkey dinners, hot soups, bundling in winter jackets, prepping snowblowers and tuning winter sports equipment.  

Cold weather is also the time when lice appears in school settings

Anyone can get lice...mainly from direct head-to-head contact but also from sharing hats, brushes and other personal items. Lice are no cause for shame and no reflection on the hygiene of your home, but are definitely a nuisance!

Please complete lice checks on children with itchy heads, or known exposure to lice, (spending time with friends family or classmates with a known case of lice) and let Alison Thomson, School Nurse at Yarmouth Elementary School, know if your child has nits or lice. Together we can keep the cases to a minimum at YES.

Tips for Prevention:

1. DO NOT SHARE Hats, brushes, scarves or personal items

2. AVOID HEAD to HEAD contact, teach children to hug with heads apart and to be mindful of where their heads are while getting in lockers and reading groups, etc.

3. Keep long hair pulled up tight on head

4. DO not lie on beds, carpets, stuffed animals or pillows that have been in contact with an infested individual

5. Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.

Nits in hair                                                                       Adult lice

How to Complete a Head Check

1. Find a well lit spot and include entertainment for your child

2. Use a magnifying glass if you have one

3. Start at the nape of the neck and and separate hair ¼ inch at a time looking closely at each section for lice and nits

4. Be sure to examine the whole head, and treat appropriately per CDC guidelines if live lice or active nits are found

For more information please reference the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/

And for details on treatment, please reference a blog written last year around this time here:   https://yarmouthelementaryschoolnurse.blogspot.com/2017/10/lice-lice-lice.html