Infectious Childhood Diseases
What They Are and How Your Child Can Avoid
- This desease is characterized by a pimple-like rash that blisters and
becomes itchy. It’s often preceded by a moderate fever, mild headache and
lethargy. The blisters will dry into scabs. Once all the blisters have scabbed
over and no lesions appear, the child is no longer contagious. The incubation
period, from the time of exposure until breakout, is about two weeks.
Anthihistamines can be prescribed to ease the itching, and antibiotics may be
needed if the scratching causes a bacterial infection. Chicken pox is most
dangerous to children with leukemia or other immune deficiency diseases. A
vaccine and other preventative treatments should be discussed with your
- Early symptoms resemble the flu or other upper respiratory illnesses.
Advanced symptoms include: rapid heartbeat, swollen or sore throat, difficulty
breathing or swallowing, swollen lymph nodes and profuse nasal discharge.
Before a diptheria vaccine was developed in the 1930’s this disease killed
thousands. This vaccine is usually administered together with the pertussis
and tetanus vaccines beginning at 2 months of age.
- Early symptoms include cold-like symptoms: a mild fever, nasal
congestions, a mild cough and red eyes. Within a few days, spots looking like
tiny grains of white sand appear inside the mouth. A day or so later, a red
rash on the face and a high fever (as high as 105 degrees F) appear. Measles
itself is not dangerous unless complications, such as pneumonia, severe ear
infection or encephalitis, set in. Avoid measles by having your child
- Pain and swelling of the glands in the upper neck and jaw are
characteristics of the infectious mumps virus. The mumps virus attacks
salivary glands and is fought off by the body with a high fever. Bed rest, a
diet of bland foods, acetaminophen to reduce the fever and warm or cold
compresses on the swollen glands are the common treatment. In children, this
disease is generally not serious. The only effective way to avoid mumps is to
have your child vaccinated.
Rubella (German Measles)
- This disease is characterized by fatigue, headache and fever, followed by
a rash a day or two later. Complications of rubella are rare in children.
Pregnant women who are exposed to rubella are at high risk because the
infection may cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects that include
blindness, deafness and heart defects. There is no specific treatment for
rubella. If marked drowsiness, sensitivity to bright light and headache occur,
seek treatment immediately, as potentially fatal encephalitis is a
complication of rubella. Avoid rubella by having your child
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
- This disease is characterized by repeated coughing without being able to
take a breath. When the child is able to take a breath, there is a whooping
sound. Coughing is accompanied by fever, vomiting and weight loss. A cool-mist
humidifier can help loosen bronchial secretions and soothe the cough. Don’t
give cough medicine unless it’s prescribed by your child’s doctor. Whooping
cough is most dangerous to infants. Immunizations are routinely administered
to prevent the disease.
- This is an infectious disease that was once one of the leading causes of
death worldwide. Improved sanitation and living conditions and the development
of antibiotics have influenced the decline in TB cases and deaths. Symptoms
include: chronic cough, chest pain (especially when taking a deep breath) and
shortness of breath. A simple skin test can detect the disease. An active
infection can be treated with antibiotics over a 12-to 18-month period. Proper
nutrition and adequate rest are also instrumental in treating TB.
- This disease is caused by the Epstein-in-Barr virus, a member of the
herpes family. The disease occurs most often in children and young adults.
Early symptoms are similar to flu symptoms: headache, sore throat, general
feeling of illness and weakness. These symptoms are followed by painful,
swollen glands in the neck, armpits and groin. Jaundice or a rash simialiar to
that of German measles may also develop. Getting lots of bed rest, drinking
plenty of fluids and taking acetaminophen for symptom relief is the
recommended treatment for this virus.
PATIENT AND VISITOR INFORMATION
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