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Common Illnesses and Symptoms

We are exposed to numerous viruses and bacterium every day. Many of the diseases caused by these viruses and bacterium can be prevented through vaccination. In this section we discuss both vaccine preventable and non-preventable diseases.
It is important that we immunize our children against the diseases for which we have vaccines.
Chicken Pox
» An acute and highly contagious viral illness usually occurring in childhood
» Symptoms include a rash and blisters filled with fluid, mild fever, sore throat, and headache
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Chickenpox is transmitted through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
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Contagious period is from 2 days before onset of the rash until all lesions have crusted
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Immunization will help prevent catching chickenpox in 70% to 90% of the cases
» Anyone having chickenpox as a child is at risk to develop shingles as an adult
Diphtheria
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A very contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial disease
» Spread by sneezing, coughing, or discharges from an infected person’s nose, mouth, throat, or skin
» Symptoms include a sore throat, mild fever, and enlarged lymph glands on the neck
» Complications can include damage to heart muscles, paralysis of breathing muscles, blocked airway, or death
» Prevention can be attained by immunization which is normally given to children in combination with the tetanus and pertussis vaccines (DPT). Four shots are given before the age of 18 months, then a booster shot between the ages of four and six years
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
» A bacterial illness that can cause a possible fatal brain infection
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Spread by sneezing or coughing of droplets from an infected person
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Symptoms include developing meningitis (fever, weakness, vomiting and a stiff neck)
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Complications include meningitis, infections to the lungs,
blood, bones, throat, and heart resulting in brain damage or death
» Prevention can be attained by immunization to children beginning at age 2 months
Hepatitis A
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A viral infection which affects the liver
» Spread by poor hygiene and ingestion of feces
» Symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, fever and jaundice
» Complications include liver disease
» Prevention can be attained by immunization
Hepatitis B
» A viral infection which affects the liver
» Spred through sexual contact, exposure to infected blood, or from an infected mother to her baby at the time of birth
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Symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, fever and jaundice
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Complications include cirrhosis (severe scarring) of the liver or liver cancer
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Prevention can be attained by immunization
Measles
» A highly contagious viral respiratory infection
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Spread through sneeze or cough droplets from an infected person
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Symptoms include a body rash, cough, runny nose, high fever and watery red eyes
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Complications may include bronchitis, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, encephalitis, or ear infections
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Prevention can be attained through immunization which is given to children in combination with a mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) between 12 and 15 months of age and a booster between 4 and 6 years of age

Mumps
» A contagious viral disease
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Spread through sneezing or coughing droplets, or drinking after an infected person
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Symptoms may include fever, headache, loss of appetite, and swelling and pain of the parotid glands in the neck
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Complications are not common, but rare complications include encephalitis and meningitis
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Prevention can be attained through immunization which is given to children in combination with a measles and rubella vaccine (MMR) between 12 and 15 months of age and a booster between 4 and 6 years of age
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
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A bacterial infection of the respiratory system
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Spread through sneezing or coughing droplets from an infected person
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Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, fever, and coughing spells in which the child’s face may turn red or purple and may make a whooping sound
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Complications may include pneumonia, ear infection, seizures or dehydration and may be life-threatening for children under 6 months of age
» Prevention can be attained with the pertussis vaccine which is given in conjunction with the diphtheria and tetanus vaccine. Four shots are given before the age of 18 months, then a booster shot between the ages of four and six years
Pneumococcal disease
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An acute bacterial infection
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Spread through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets
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Symptoms may include fever, cough, chest pain, chills, dyspnea (shortness of breath), tachypnea (rapid breathing), or hypoxia (poor oxygenation
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Complications my include pneumococcal pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteremia, or bacterial meningitis
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Prevention can be attained with a vaccination for children under two years of age – three doses at 2, 4, and 6 months of age and a fourth at 12-15 months of age
Polio
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A highly contagious viral disease that can damage the central nervous system and result in abortive polio (mild form), nonparalytic form or the most serious paralytic polio
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Spread through the mouth from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person or contaminated objects such as eating utensils
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Symptoms may include headache, tiredness, fever, stiff neck and back, and muscle pain for abortive and nonparalytic polio. Symptoms for paralytic polio include muscle weakness, fever, stiffness, tremor, muscle pain and spasms, and difficulty swallowing
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Complications include paralysis of the legs, breathing muscles, and swallowing muscles. Can be fatal when involving the breathing and swallowing muscles
» Prevention is attained by injecting children with inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) at ages 2 and 4 months, then two doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) at 12-18 months and 4-6 years
Respiratory Syncytial Virus
» The most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants and children under 1 year of age
Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, and sometimes wheezing
» Spread through contact with infected persons or contaminated surfaces from sneezing or coughing
» There is no vaccine available yet
Rheumatic Fever
» An inflammatory disease which may develop after an infection with streptococcus bacteria, such as strep throat
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Common symptoms include fever, joint pain, joint swelling, abdominal pain, skin rash, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches
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Treatment includes the use of anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics.
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Complications may include heart valve damage, endocarditis, heart failure, arrhythmias, or pericarditis

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