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Disease information

Here you’ll find a useful compendium of diseases and ailments that you may encounter as a public school educator.

The Department of Health/DOE School Health is supposed to send out a letter to staff and parents whenever there has been a case or cases of a reportable disease (for example, tuberculosis or bacterial meningitis).

Read the DOE's reportable disease policy »

  • Anaphylactic shock (EpiPen)
    The DOE has developed a comprehensive plan to address the identification and treatment of food allergies and the use of EpiPens in New York City schools.
  • Asthma
    Asthma is a lung disease. People have it for many years. There is no cure for asthma, but you can take charge and learn to control it. During an asthma episode, the airways in your lungs get swollen. Your chest feels tight. You may cough, wheeze, or have trouble breathing.
  • Bed bugs
    Bed bugs are not known to cause or transmit disease and the risk of person-to-person transference in school is very low. 
  • Body lice
    Pediculousis, or infestation with body lice, causes little irritation initially. After weeks of continued biting, some individuals may become sensitized and suffer an allergic reaction.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder of the hand (caused by swollen tendons in the wrist) resulting from repetitious, forceful motion of the hands and wrists.
  • Chickenpox
    Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella virus, a member of the herpes virus family. It is the most commonly reported childhood disease. Effective in 1995, chickenpox is no longer required to be reported to the New York City Department of Health.
  • Common cold
    The common cold (also called viral rhinitis) is a viral infection, characterized by nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat and general malaise.
  • Fifth disease
    Fifth disease, usually a mild rash illness with low or no fever, is caused by a human parvovirus (B19).
  • Head lice
    Head lice is an infection with adult or larval lice or their eggs (nits). Here is information about the disease and the policy on lice and nits in New York City public schools.
  • Hepatitis B
    Hepatitis B (formerly known as serum hepatitis) is an infection of the liver caused by a bloodborne virus.
  • Infectious mononucleosis
    Infectious mononucleosis is a viral disease that affects certain types of white blood cells. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a member of the herpes virus family.
  • Influenza (Flu)
    Influenza is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. There are two main types of virus: influenza A and influenza B. Each type includes many different strains, which tend to change each year.
  • Measles
    Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that causes fever and a rash. Measles is more common in winter and spring. Epidemics of measles can occur.
  • Meningitis (Bacterial)
    Meningitis (bacterial) is a severe bacterial infection of the meninges (a thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord) caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Meningococcemia is the term for infections involving the bloodstream.
  • Meningitis (Viral)
    Viral meningitis is a viral infection of the lining (meninges) covering the brain and spinal corde. There are many types of viruses that can cause this disease.
  • MRSA - Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
    MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but is shorthand for any strain of Staphylococcus bacteria which is resistant to one or more conventional antibiotics.
  • Noroviruses or stomach viruses
    Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause an illness some people call the "stomach flu." They are not related to the flu (influenza). Another name for noroviruses is gastroenteritis.
  • Ringworm
    Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus that can affect the scalp, skin, fingers, toenails or foot.
  • Rubella (German measles)
    Rubella is a viral disease that causes fever, rash and swollen glands. Illness is usually mild, but if a woman gets rubella during pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects in her unborn child. Rubella is more common in winter and spring.
  • Scabies
    Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite. The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
  • Shingles
    Shingles, also called herpes zoster or zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
  • Streptococcal infections
    Group A streptococci are bacteria commonly found in the throat and on the skin. The vast majority of Group A Strep infections are mild illnesses, such as strep throat and impetigo.
  • Tuberculosis
    TB is spread when a person who has active, untreated TB germs in their lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, laughs, or speaks, spreading their germs into the air. A person who breathes in TB germs usually has had very close, day-to-day contact with someone who has active TB disease.
  • Whooping cough
    Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial illness that causes a cough lasting several weeks.
  • Zika virus
    Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.