Online System Could Prevent Disease Spread in Preschools

Pharmacy Times, November 2014 Cough & Cold, Volume 80, Issue 11

A web-based surveillance system may help to better contain the spread of influenza and other illnesses at preschools and child care centers, according to the results of a study presented on October 11, 2014, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego, California.

The researchers of the study set out to improve illness reporting methods in pre-schools and day care facilities by creating a computerized system. The system was tested in 4 child care centers in Michigan. Staff were trained to enter data for sick children regarding illness type and symptoms in 7 categories common among preschoolers—fever, influenza-like illness, pink eye, stomach illness, cold or respiratory symptoms, ear infections, and rash. The researchers then sent the data electronically to the public health department weekly, or more frequently when spikes in illness occurred.

Overall, the centers reported 188 individual episodes of illness.

“Preliminary data suggest that using the online biosurveillance in child care centers and preschools gives us an earlier detection and warning system because the younger children appeared to become sick first compared to middle school and high school aged children within the community,” said study author Andrew N. Hashikawa, MD, FAAP, in a press release.