Doctors warn about two diseases as kids go back to school

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Schools are starting back up again across Indiana and with that, the chance for germs and viruses.

This year, however, Indiana doctors are on alert for two specific diseases they are seeing more and more often.

"It's been a very busy summer. Even though, usually, in the summer things are not as busy, Riley has been pretty full on a consistent basis, because viruses and bacteria are going around," said Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Pediatrician Dr. Michael McKenna.

The first is a viral infection called "hand, foot and mouth disease."

"The rash looks ugly, kids feel uncomfortable, and they can have fevers. The one concern is if they have so many ulcers in their mouth that they refuse to eat or drink, that they can become dehydrated," McKenna said.

McKenna says while he only diagnosed a case or two last year, this year he is reaching double digits.

"This year, it's much more prominent and the rash is much more severe," McKenna said.

Doctors are also seeing many more cases of shigellosis, a bacterial infection spread when people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. It can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Last year, there were 32 cases of shigellosis in Marion County. This year, there have been several hundred in central Indiana.

"Back to school means interacting with all of your friends and that's a whole bunch of new people that you can introduce your bacteria and viruses to," McKenna said.

Dr. McKenna says this is not the time to go for the "perfect attendance" record. If your child is sick, keep them home.

Prevention for both hand, foot and mouth disease and shigellosis can be as simple as consistent hand washing. Both diseases are treatable.