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The Common Cold

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What is the Common Cold?

Pathogens that cause the common cold are spread by direct and indirect contact with ill people or contaminated surfaces, and when someone coughs or sneezes. Common colds can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes 
Not sure if the illness is a cold, the flu or norovirus? Click here for a chart that outlines the differences.

A cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by a number of different viruses. Colds generally clear up in a week or two, and usually do not lead to any serious complications. The incubation period is generally short, one to four days.


Managing the common cold: What to do

  • Do not exclude a child if he or she is well enough to participate in activities.
  • If a child in not able to participate, that may indicate a more serious respiratory illness that needs medical attention.
  • Remind ill children and staff to sneeze or cough in to their arms or in to a tissue.
  • Remind staff and children to wash their hands after blowing noses, sneezing or coughing.

Download a "Cover your Cough" brochure  to share in your child care centre.


Quick Reference

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Record any respiratory illness, including symptoms, in the child’s record and the Public Health Illness Surveillance Form.

If a large number of children becoming ill at the child care centre, call Public Health at 519.539.9800.

Remember to clean toys and surfaces more often.