Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Day care health concerns

Question: My son is in daycare and came home with strep throat. He was on antibiotic for 10 days and he took it exactly as he was supposed to. Although pain and fever went away, he seemed to be left with a runny nose and cold like symptoms. Now exactly 1 wk after finishing the antibiotic he is complaining again that his throat hurts, he is running fever again and when I look in his mouth it looks exactly the same as it did when he had the strep throat. If children are in daycare and contract an illness that is still making it's rounds while the child is on antibiotics and still around thereafter can they just keep getting the same thing every week over and over again? I really do not want to put my son on antibiotics again since it has only been one week since he was on them. Do you thing this is the situation, or do you think it is "smart bacteria" situation? Please help my child is sick. Julie

Answer: Most illnesses that are acquired in any setting where there are many children, (especially school or daycare) are caused by viruses. Of course, bacteria are also present and can be spread just as easily within a group of children. How many toddlers cover their nose when sneezing? The majority of illness is actually caused by germs that are on the hands! Good hand washing is probably one of the best hygiene tips we can teach our children. And ourselves!).

Antibiotics are only effective when treating bacterial infections such as your son's Strep throat.

There are hundreds of viruses (that we know of) that cause the perpetual "runny nose and cold symptoms" that toddlers seem to have on an almost daily basis. A frequent complaint I always hear is "my child is always sick. What can I do?"

Because many working parents rely on nursery school and daycare, chances are, runny noses and colds will continue. Just make sure your child gets sufficient fluids and a well balanced diet. Vitamins also, if the diet is lacking in certain nutrients.

The situation that you are describing is very common. Your child is treated for one thing and gets another! A sore throat caused by a bacteria(Strep), may look the same as one caused by a virus. (Sometimes, it looks even worse). It's best to have your child checked by the pediatrician to make sure that it's not something that needs antibiotics. Most sore throats (usually caused by viruses) do not need antibiotics.

One comment on the "SMART BACTERIA:" Over the years, bacteria and viruses have "learned" to survive, just as we have developed vaccines and antibiotics to prevent illness due to these germs. The overuse of some medicines, (antibiotics in particular) is a major reason that resistant strains of germs have developed over time.

As always, contact your child's pediatrician with any concerns.

Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • Can my child catch RSV from his caregiver?
  • My 12 year old daughter experiences difficulty sleeping due to fear of the dark and being alone. Is this normal?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.