Infections in Education...
August 12, 2014 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Okay, that is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek title... I just started doing tech support work in a public school. I know about hand washing and using sanitizer but anyone have any thoughts about additional vaccinations beyond TDP and the annual flu shot?

Over the course of the next 8.5 months I will get to handle ~270 'personal' computers, getting to deal with a little of everything (looking forward to PBJ in the keyboard!) along the way.

And I do work in a part of the country that will probably see some of our new immigrants from the South, or at least some of them will be living with families who have children attending the school.

Your thoughts & suggestions are welcomed.

posted by sandpine to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wear a mask if you are using compressed air to clean keyboards. I know several IT folks who got nasty sinus infections from the gunk they breathed in. Ick.
posted by LaBellaStella at 6:10 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get into the habit of never touching your face. Many people unconsciously touch their faces, especially eyes, nose and mouth, all day long. This is one of the very best ways to get viruses and bacteria into mucus membranes that provide a terrific infection route.

Also, I find that my immune system does a lot better when I'm taking 5000IU of vitamin D3 per day.

For my environment, I like to do a wipe-down with isopropyl alcohol about once a week. Most surfaces handle it fine, and I make a habit of wiping down often touched items in my office (keyboard, phone, mouse, doorknob, etc). I also wipe down my cell phone frequently since I'm touching it all day long.
posted by quince at 6:12 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming you already are up to date on the regular immunizations an adult in the United States would have received, if you are not in the United States you should probably mention that. If you're not vaccinated against hepatitis A, that's one that's currently recommended for children in the USA that could potentially be transmitted by a dirty keyboard (fecal-oral transmission, to be precise!), although as you can see from the link this would be from an abundance of caution as you would not be considered to be at risk for contracting it (at least not from the exposure you've described here). Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted in this way.

Vaccinations for tropical diseases such as yellow fever or typhoid are generally not recommended unless you are traveling to an endemic area, regardless of whether you work with immigrants or not.

If you want to be super careful you could get your titers checked for MMR. Some people who were immunized as children against MMR are no longer immune, and unfortunately, these diseases are re-emerging due to lack of immunization coverage. If you never contracted chickenpox, you could look into that one as well (transmitted via aerosol), again the risk is unvaccinated people. The sanitation measures recommended above are probably all you need, but you asked about vaccinations, so...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:15 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like most teachers, you will probably catch everything that goes around he first year, especially if you are around the children. After that, you'll be fine. Some schools offer free or cheap flu shots through the employee wellness program.
posted by tamitang at 8:26 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a teacher and my immunity was fine until my school got a pre-k class. I have made it a rule to wash my hands every time I leave that room, and was pretty much back to normal after that.
posted by JoannaC at 8:30 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a schoolteacher who rarely gets sick (knock on wood!) I think you'll be fine if you wash your hands frequently and make an doctor's appointment if you start feeling ill: school staff get a lot of sick days for a reason so please don't hesitate to use them. My only heads up, quite literally, is to maybe be extra careful of lice if you are working with elementary students. It's something kids don't get sent home for anymore at many schools as it's now considered discrimination.

In my state, vaccinations and a physical are required for starting school. And, honestly, I find that kids from immigrant families are more LIKELY to have their shots in order as they're less likely to be part of the anti-immunization crowd. I would like to also address some bias on your part: I realize you did not intend it in a judgmental way, but I find it somewhat offensive that you're alluding that 1) public schools kids are somehow "dirtier" than those attending private schools, and 2) immigrant children from Central America are somehow more "disease-ridden" than the general population. If you have worries about a particular student, for example, you can always talk to the school nurse: they do great work and can surely give you some staying-healthy tips, too.

Good luck and I hope have a great year!
posted by smorgasbord at 9:03 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Aside from healthy sleep to maintain your immunity, the absolute, slam-dunk, best thing you can do is avoid physical contact with surfaces that students touch. Doorknobs,, keyboards, desks, pens, etc. If you must touch any of these, they should be hit with Lysol more than daily. As a teacher, I can tell you it has been the single greatest factor in reducing my sick time. Most of what you might catch in a school is less airborne, and more surface-borne.
posted by antipode12 at 10:26 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I teach public school and live with an emergency room doctor. We rarely get sick. I recommend that you:

Get enough sleep. Get your flu shot every year, as soon as is possible. Go get your Tdap (tetanus/diptheria/whooping cough) booster if you haven't gotten one as an adult/in 10 years; whooping cough is going around. Be careful leaning your head near elementary school kids (for lice prevention). Keep hand sanitizer around so you can use it liberally without having to think too much about it. Wash your hands more than you think you need to. NEVER TOUCH YOUR FACE. NEVERRRRRRRRRRR TOUCH YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAACE.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:51 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

My stepmom is a teacher (32+ years). She teaches technology in a private school, so she is always dealing with keyboards. Her trick is that she wipes down the computer keyboards after Every Single Class with Lysol wipes.
posted by heathrowga at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2014

Response by poster: - quince: already doing that or a bit more.

- treehorn+bunny : Thanks for the tip on hepatitis A; that's one I don't think I would have thougth of.

- smorgasbord: not quite sure how you got the "dirtier" meme out of the question. The point was to indicate all probable vectors for things I might encounter. And thanks for the lice comment. I believe I've already heard that issue being discussed.

posted by sandpine at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2014

Thanks for your clarification, SandPine! As for the lice comment, do you mean you already heard it elsewhere? I reread the answers and I believe I had brought it up here first; however, it's all good because, as charmedimsure mentioned later, one really can't be too careful in its prevention! I hope your school year's gotten off to a good start.
posted by smorgasbord at 1:56 PM on August 17, 2014

« Older How do I replace the first line of every php file...   |   What is wrong with my Google Play books account? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.