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Childhood diseases pertussis and chicken pox

Updated: Wednesday, Jul 07,2010, 3:56:20 PM
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Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is also known as whooping cough. A bacterium is the culprit in this disease and antibiotics are used to treat it.

Whooping cough is highly contagious.  you can get it just by breathing the air in a room in which someone with whooping cough sneezed or coughed.

The first symptoms of pertussis are:

    * flu-like symptoms and runny nose
    * sneezing
    * a low grade fever
    * a cough

The cough slowly worsens over a couple of weeks. The whooping sound comes when the infected person breathes back in after a coughing spell.

Incubation is about a week, and someone is contagious from the time the first symptoms appear until after the cough is cured.

Again, whooping cough can be prevented with a vaccine.  recommends the first inoculation at 2 months followed by more vaccines at 4, 6 and 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years. Unfortunately, vaccination does not provide lifelong immunity.  adults up to 65 years old should receive the special adult vaccine for whooping cough, even if they were vaccinated as children.  suggests that children be reassessed on their needs around the ages of 11 and 12.

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It's the same one that causes shingles in adults.  Chicken pox usually begins with an itchy rash  of small red bumps in the scalp that spreads to the back and the stomach before spreading to the face. The bumps turn into blisters, which then crust over.

Chicken pox is contagious from a couple of days before the rash shows up and until all the blisters have scarred over. A vast majority of the population used to get chicken pox as a child. there once was a time that 95 percent of people got chicken pox before they reached adulthood. However, that is changing with the advent of a vaccine for chicken pox.

In 1995, a vaccine was developed.  recommends the vaccine for healthy children at 12 to 18 months of age.  all children should have received the vaccine by their thirteenth birthdays.  recommends two doses of the vaccine: the first between 12 and 18 months, the second between 4 and 6 years old.

Adults who have not had chicken pox should talk with their doctors. If you aren't sure if you were ever exposed, there are blood tests available to determine if you are immune or not. Chicken pox is especially dangerous in women who are pregnant.

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