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Common Infectious Illnesses

Chickenpox

Signs and symptoms:
This acute, highly infectious disease is caused by a virus, which is marked by eruptions on the skin. It mainly strikes children under the age of ten years, and is one of the mildest childhood infectious diseases. The child may have a raised temperature, and feel ill for a day or two before the appearance of spots. The spots appear as dark red pimples, which spread from the chest and back to the face and scalp, developing blisters within hours. Once the blisters have dried up, itchy scabs form, which causes severe irritation with an intense desire to scratch.

Chickenpox, if caught while pregnant can cause developmental irregularities in the fetus, so it would be wise to avoid contact with any sufferers, had you not had the disease before. If you do happen to develop chickenpox whilst pregnant it is advisable to contact your doctor immediately.

Chickenpox is a once-off disease, and those that have been affected previously will not suffer with it again, there is however an increased risk among those who have previously had chickenpox, to develop shingles later in life. Once the infection is overcome, recovery is complete - and the spots will only leave scars if they are scratched or at some point became infected.
 
Incubation period:
2 - 3 weeks
 
Infectious stage:
Patient considered to be infectious from the time of exposure until the final scabs have fallen off.
 
Treatment:

Measles

Signs and symptoms:
This highly, most infectious of the childhood diseases, presents itself in the form of a pink rash that starts behind the ears and across the forehead, with the virus spreading through the air in minute droplets of moisture. The child will have a raised temperature, with a dry cough and irritated red eyes, appearing to have a severe cold. The child may also vomit and suffer with diarrhea.
A definite diagnosis of measles can be made 2 days prior to the rash, by looking for small red spots (Koplik's spots), on the inside of the child's cheeks. The rash could spread over the entire body, with the temperature lowering once the rash appears. There may be some peeling of the skin, and a slight brown staining where the rash was present.
The common complication after developing measles, is another illness forming on top of it. This is usually caused by a bacteria which attacks, either the ears or lungs, with children under two years being particularly at risk from this type of secondary infection.
 
Incubation period:
10 - 12 days.
 
Infectious stage: 3 days after the disappearance of the rash.
 
Treatment: 

German Measles (Rubella)

Signs and symptoms:
German measles is less contagious and a much milder form of measles, causing only minor discomfort. Tiny reddish spots appear on the face, and body, eventually spreading to the upper and lower extremities. Lymph nodes at the back of the neck may swell, accompanied by fever, cough, sore throat and generalized fatigue.
 
Incubation period:
7 days after the rash has appeared.
 
Treatment: 

Mumps

Signs and symptoms:
An infectious disease which is usually mild in children. It is caused by a virus that is transmitted in the saliva of an infected person. Swelling of the face and neck, making it difficult for the child to move his head and open his mouth. A slight fever may be present.
Further complications of this disease, are not common. However, the most widely known and feared secondary complication is sterility, but this only invades about a quarter of the men who suffer with mumps. For this reason it is a good idea for boys to become immune to the disease before puberty and young men who haven't previously developed it, to avoid contact with sufferers.
 
Incubation period:
2-3 weeks
Infectious stage: Until swelling subsides
 
Treatment: Learn more about infectious sexual illnesses like Chlamydia in Men and Women.