When I was a little girl growing up in a largely undeveloped Sarasota, mosquito outbreaks were very common. I can remember the sound of large trucks rolling through the neighborhood, spraying insecticide in an effort to rid the community of these pesky insects.

One summer, I heard more than the sound of mosquito trucks. I heard adults talking with great concern about a form of encephalitis (brain inflammation) that was mosquito-transmitted.  I remember hearing about children who were getting very sick because of encephalitis.

I was a worrier. So the more I heard about mosquitoes and encephalitis, the more I lived in abject fear that I was sure to be the next victim.  I’d pull the covers over my head at night in the hope that any mosquito that might wiggle its way through the window screen wouldn’t be able to find me.  Trust me.  It was hot under those covers on Sarasota summer nights.  But I was worried, and the discomfort of overheating seemed to be worth the added protection I was sure I was gaining.

I can’t tell you how long the encephalitis scare lasted. One day, the adults stopped talking about it.  And I no longer found myself using the bedcovers as a protective shield.

I tell you this as a reminder that as the media swirls with reports of enterovirus and Ebola, your children are listening and watching.

For the sake of the handwringers, like I was, it’s a good idea to limit children’s exposure to these news stories. That way, you can filter the information you want to share with your children.

Here are a few reminders from the American Academy of Pediatrics for children who are concerned about enterovirus or Ebola:

  • They are safe.
  • Our health care system is among the best in the world for taking care of sick people.
  • Ebola is rare and does not exist everywhere. When cases are found, the person with the infection is taken to a safe place to be cared for so that he can get better and not make anyone else sick.
  • Doctors and scientists who know a lot about Ebola are working hard to find ways to prevent or cure this illness

At Weiss Pediatric Care, we want you to have all the latest information about Ebola and enterovirus so that you can calm your own fears, and talk to your children in ways that are age-appropriate and that minimize worry. One of the best sources of information for parents is The American Academy of Pediatrics who continue to provide up-to-date information for parents about both illnesses. Check out Ebola: What Parents Need to Know and Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know to learn more.