Navigating The Top Illnesses Of The Back To School Season

Navigating the Top Illnesses of the Back-to-School Season

Who else feels that as we prepare for another academic year, we also find ourselves preparing for all the extra germs and sicknesses that our kids are going to be bringing home?

Here are the most common illnesses that we see in Anchorage in our school-going patients.

Common Cold

Common cold symptoms include a running nose, coughing, and sneezing. 

The common cold is:

  • A viral infection
  • Highly contagious and mainly transmitted through contact 

Prevention measures include washing hands regularly with soap and water, avoiding exposure to sick people, and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.


The symptoms of flu are similar to those of the common cold. However, flu is more severe  and the child often experiences headaches, high fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle aches. 

The flu is :

  • A viral illness
  • Contagious and transmitted when one comes in contact with nasal secretions
  • Often occurs during the winter months

Prevention Measures against flu include practicing good hygiene, vaccination, and avoiding exposure to anyone infected. 

Pink Eye

Pink eye or conjunctivitis is a condition that causes the white part of the eye to turn pink or red. 

Pink eye is:

  • Usually caused by viral infections, bacteria, or allergens
  • Contagious and transmitted through touching contaminated surfaces

The symptoms of pink eye include itchy, red, and swollen eyes. To prevent pink eye, children should avoid sharing personal belongings and direct contact with infected children.

Strep Throat

The symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, headache, and a fever. 

Strep Throat is: 

  • A bacterial infection 
  • Contagious and transmitted through sharing items such as utensils and handshakes with someone who is sick. 

Prevention measures against strep throat include washing hands regularly, avoiding exposure to sick people, and avoiding sharing items like utensils and drinks.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

The symptoms of this disease are small sores on the mouth, hands, and feet that may cause fever, sore throat, and other symptoms related to cold and flu. 

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is: 

  • A viral infection that’s prevalent in children under five years.
  • Contagious and transmitted when coming in contact with an infected child.

Prevention measures are the same as those for other viral infections, including regular hand washing with soap and water.


The Symptoms of RSV often mirror those of a common cold or flu, including a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, and a mild fever. However, in some cases, especially in infants, RSV can lead to more serious complications like bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

RSV is: 

  • A viral infection
  • Contagious and transmitted through close contact.

Given its highly contagious nature, practicing good hygiene such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with infected individuals can help prevent its transmission.


As our children get back into the swing of things, it’s essential to pay attention to symptoms of these common illnesses that are prevalent in schools. Let this also be a reminder that antibiotics aren’t effective against viral infection – so practice basic hygiene such as washing hands regularly, cover nose or mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding contact with sick people, to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses.