What's Going Around: Back to school illnesses

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Many central Ohio children have wrapped up the first few days of a new school year.

Medical experts say being back in the classroom can set them up for illness too.

Doctors emphasize that parents need to stress the importance of good hand washing. The key to good hand washing is 20 seconds of vigorous washing with soap and water.

“It’s kind of how long it takes to sing the ‘ABC’ song in your head two times in a row," Dr. Mike Patrick of Nationwide Children’s Hospital said.

Handwashing, he said, is the most important way to prevent illness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are equally effective as soap. There are some organisms that are washed away with soap and water including Clostridium difficile or C. diff. Dr. Mike said it causes diarrhea.

“That one, the hand gel doesn’t work quite as well for but good old-fashioned soap and water is a better option," Dr. Patrick said.

Another important lesson is to cover coughs and to do it using the inside of the elbow. Coughing into the hands can spread viruses and bacteria when you cough into your hands and then tough other things.

It is important to also ensure your family maintains good nutrition, gets enough sleep, and is active with exercise. Doctors said all of those elements are good for the immune system and subsequently will help prevent illness.