Your child is suddenly down with the fever and soon rash begins to sprout all over his body. Do not panic, it would most probably be one of the two most common childhood diseases: Chickenpox and Measles. Although these are very common ailments, it is still very important to consult your child’s pediatrician at the onset of symptoms.
CHICKENPOX (VARICELLA) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that produces an itchy, blister-like rash that covers most of the body which lasts for about five to seven days. From the moment a child is exposed to the chickenpox virus, it would take twelve to fourteen days before the rash appears. It starts from the scalp and body and spreads to the face, arms and legs. A child who has chickenpox is contagious one to two days before onset of the rash and for one day after the last rash appears. It is thus very important to isolate a child while he has chickenpox.
During the course of the infection, a child may get a mild fever but giving him aspirin or any medicine containing aspirin should be avoided as this could lead to Reye’s Syndrome. Blisters that appear on the skin will eventually dry up and form crusts then scars.
Prevention is through immunization with the Varicella Vaccine.
MEASLES is transmitted via breathing air droplets with the measles virus from an infected person. After being exposed to the measles virus, symptoms would surface from the first eight to twelve days. A child is contagious several days before the rashes break out until the fever and rashes are gone.
The first symptoms that would surface are high fever, dry cough, runny nose and red eyes. After two to four days, rashes appear on the face and neck then spread down to the torso and out to the limbs. The rashes start out as fine red bumps which may merge to form larger ones. These last for five to eight days and peel a little as they fade.
Prevention is through vaccination with both measles and MMR(measles-mumps-rubella) Vaccines. If vaccine was not given a child contracts the disease, have him take plenty of fluids and fever-lowering medication such as paracetamol.
RUBELLA(GERMAN MEASLES) is transmitted through breathing virus-containing air droplets. Upon exposure to the virus, it would take fourteen to twenty-one days before symptoms manifest. A child who acquires this disease is contagious several days before the rashes appear until seven days after they disappear.
This is characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes on the back of the neck and base of the skull, and rashes that spread throughout the body in a span of two to three days. This disease can be so mild that it goes undetected in about fifty percent of children who get it. Although it is mild in children, it can have devastating effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman who contracts it. The fetus may have severe deformities when born.
Fever may be relieved using antipyretics and dehydration can be prevented by providing the child with plenty of fluids. Prevention is through immunization with the MMR Vaccine.