• How Can I Tell the Difference Between Asthma, COVID-19 (New Coronavirus), the Flu, a Cold, or Seasonal Allergies?

    There are some symptoms that are similar between these respiratory illnesses and asthma. This chart can help you figure out if you may be feeling symptoms of asthma, allergies, or a respiratory illness like COVID-19, the flu, or a cold. If you have a fever and a cough, call your doctor right away. If you have seasonal allergies, there are things you can do to treat at home.

    Information is still changing. We will update this chart as new evidence comes out.



Communicable Diseases

  •  Chicken Pox

    • Symptoms: A red, itchy rash, initially resembling insect bites, on your face, scalp, chest and back; Fever; loss of appetite or abdominal pain; Mild headache; dry cough

    • Transmission: Chicken pox is contagious for up to 5 days before onset of rash and not more than 5 days after the onset of the rash. Spread by coughing and sneezing and direct contact  

    • Immunization: Varicella vaccine can be given to children between 12 and 15 months of age

    • School Attendance: May return when all lesions are crusted, generally day 6 after onset of rash.

    • Follow up: Susceptible individuals should be considered infectious 10-21 days following exposure.

    Common Cold

    • Symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing, fever and chills; lasting up for two weeks

    • Transmission: by contact with discharge; airborne and droplet routes as well

    • School Attendance: Exclude if fever is greater than 100 degrees or if excessive coughing is present.  Students do not need to be excluded if symptoms are mild/moderate and child is able to participate in routine activities.

    • Follow up: Observe for other respiratory or viral illnesses such as strep throat, influenza, or chicken pox which may began with symptoms similar to the common cold.  Child's health status should be monitored.

    Head Lice

    • Symptoms: Irritation and itching of the scalp.  Presence of insects and eggs or "nits" in the hair, especially at the nape of the neck and about the ears.  Lice may appear lighter on persons with fair hair and darker on persons with dark hair.

    • Transmission: Communicable when live lice are present and moving and/or viable nits are present on the child. Direct head to head contact, e.g., crowded sleeping conditions; may also be spread by contact with infested headgear, towels, hairbrushes, combs, pillows, bedding, earphones, etc.

    • School Attendance: Exclude until live lice and viable nits are eradicated.  This requires effective insecticide of scalp, skin and clothing.  Children may return after being treated with a pediculicide and after delousing of personal articles.  If your child is sent home for head lice, you must bring them to the school nurse before they are readmitted into school, if they still have nits they may be excluded from school until ALL nits are removed.

    • Follow up: When head lice are found in a setting, all close contacts of the infested child should be examined for signs of itching, redness, nits and lice.  All household and other intimate contacts should be examined.  Concurrent treatment of the child and all of his or her infested contacts as well as disinfection and treatment of clothing and inanimate objects is necessary to eradicate the infestation.

    Strep Throat

    • Symptoms:   Sudden onset, with sore throat, fever, tonsillitis or pharynigitis, and tender lymph glands in the neck.  Rash, if appears, usually does so within 24 hours upon neck, chest and in the folds of the axilla, elbows and groin.  It appears as a fine, pinpoint rash which can be felt (like sandpaper).  The face is flushed, with paleness around the mouth.  The red papillae of the tongue may show through white coating ("strawberry tongue").

    • Transmission: Mainly contact with respiratory droplets of infected person or carrier; with adequate antibiotic therapy, generally no more than 24 hours from start of therapy.

    • School Attendance: Children should not return to school until at least 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatment, and until they are fever free. 

    • Follow up: Make sure student finishes full amount of prescription of antibiotic 

    Mononucleosis (Mono)

    • Symptoms: Sore throat, swollen lymph glands and fever.  Disease generally mild in young children.

    • Transmission: Person-to-person by contact with saliva (i.e: kissing, mouthing of toys of infected person). Prolonged communicability may be up to a year or more.

    • School Attendance: may attend school

    • Follow Up: no follow up


    1.  Center for Disease Control and Prevention
    2. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services