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Childhood Illnesses

Prior to immunisation many children suffered with illnesses from which they did not recover. Now the majority of childhood ilnesses are preventable. Below is a guide to the description and symptoms of childhood illnesses. If you are ever unsure about your child's health always make an appointment to see the doctor.

Description: Mumps is generally a mild viral illness, although it can have some serious complications. A single attack can provide lifelong immunity for most people.
Symptoms: Pain around the ear during chewing/swallowing action, coupled with swelling under the jaw and an inflammation of the salivary glands. This usually spreads from one side of the face to the other. Older children may get a headache, mild fever and a stiff neck.
Infectious Period: Five days from onset of the swollen glands

Description: Measles is caused by a virus which is very infectious. A child suffering from measles feels very unwell.
Symptoms: A high temperature, running nose, dry cough and red eyes; white spots appear inside the mouth; a blotchy red spotty rash appears, first on the face, behind the ears before spreading over the body. As the rash fades, a brownish discolouration of the skin occurs. Cough may be the last symptom to disappear.
How long off school: Five days from the onset of the rash. This is now a rare condition in the UK.

Description: Rubella is a mild infection caused by a virus. Children are most commonly affected; adults sometimes get a more severe case.
Symptoms: a short lived fever, swollen glands and base of skull; a non-itchy rash which appears on face and travels downwards to the neck and limbs. Children may have some joint pain; a runny nose and eyes appear inflamed.
How long off school: Five days from the appearance of the rash; a child is most infectious before the diagnosis is made, most children should be immune due to immunisation, therefore exclusion after the rash will prevent very few cases.

Whooping Cough
: Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium which infects the lungs.
Symptoms: Mild fever, loss of appetite and a dry cough. The cough becomes more severe and produces the characteristic "whoop". Vomiting may follow the cough.
How long off school: Five days from the start of antibiotic treatment. Non infectious coughing may continue for several weeks.

Description: Chickenpox is a mild childhood disease caused by a virus. It is common in young children, and one attack normally gives protection for life.
Symptoms: A few days after being infected itchy red spots appear, these become thin clear blisters. They spread from the chest and back to the whole body. The blisters then become scabs or crusts which fall off within 10 days. Rashes of the spots occur at different times, so spots of different ages can appear side by side.
How long off school: The child is infectious until the spots have crusted.

Description: Meningitis is a virus which can have serious complications. A single attack would normally provide lifelong immunity.
Symptoms: Sudden onset of fever, rapid breathing, vomiting, severe headache, high temperature, hands and feet may be cold; drowsiness, stiff neck, confusion and a dislike of bright light. A bruising-like rash of tiny red spots turning into purple marks may be visible. All the symptoms may not show at the same time. The rash is a feature of meningitis in many cases. Symptoms can easily be mistaken for flu or a very bad cold. If you are unsure at this point it is always advisable to seek medical attention.
How long off school: Recovery time will depend on which form of meningitis the child has. On average two to three weeks.

Description: Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection, which can be spread by direct contact between one individual and another. The bacteria that cause  this condition infest the skin by entering via a cut, insect bite or a skin condition. It can be uncomfortable and distressing to a child, although in itself is not a serious condition.
Symptoms: Skin is red with thin walled blisters that contain yellow or honey coloured fluid. The blisters burst and raw, moist sores are left, which gradually enlarge. Crusts form as the surface of the sores dry out.
How long off school: When treatment of the impetigo is finished, the child may return to school. Swimming should be avoided until the skin has healed. Always consult your GP if you are concerned.

Description: Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the transport membrane covering the white of the eye and linig the inside of the eyelids.
Symptoms: Eyes become red and itchy and they may sting, burn or feel gritty. Vision can be slightly blurred. There is a thin, watery discharge which can be clear or yellow. Conjunctivitis can develop during a cold or throat infection.
How long off school: No time off is required unless advised by the GP.

Head Lice
Description: Lice are small black insects which live on the scalp. Lice feed by sucking blood from the scalp. They lay eggs, which attach onto individual hairs. These are called nits. Lice hatch after 7 days: are fully grown and lay eggs at 14 days.
Symptoms: Continuous itching of the scalp, back of the ears, bottom of the head near the neckline and central to the crown.
Treatment: Purchase a nit comb from your local chemist. Wash the hair and apply conditioner, thoroughly comb through sections of hair. Repeat this every couple of days until all lice and eggs are removed. Follow this procedure once a week. Let your child's school know if they have head lice.

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