Keep them healthy
Because the immune systems of children are not fully developed, and because children are often in close proximity to one another in environments such as day-care centers, classrooms, and on school buses, the transmission of contagious diseases is particularly easy.
Contagious diseases are often caused by the spread of bacteria (such as in scarlet fever) or viruses (such as in chickenpox, measles, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and several others) in droplets of saliva and mucus, especially when coughing or sneezing. Contagious diseases can also occur by coming in close personal contact with another infected person or even by sharing personal items, as in infestation caused by insects (such as with scabies) or a fungal infection (such as in ringworm).
Many childhood diseases, once contracted, result in lifelong immunity, but this is not always the case. Vaccinations also provide immunity to some of the diseases below. Unfortunately, many of these diseases are most contagious before the infected child has any symptoms of the disease, making transmission even more likely.
Fifth disease, also called slapped-cheek disease, is a common illness in young children caused by a parvovirus.
Roseola, also known as sixth disease, is a mild illness, mainly affecting children, which will go away on its own.
Measles(rubeola) is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system, which is caused by a virus.
Chickenpox (varicella) is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes excruciating throat pain, accompanied by difficulty swallowing and even speaking.
Scarlet fever is an infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. It not only causes a throat infection (“strep throat”), but also produces a poison that causes the distinctive rash of scarlet fever. Some people are more sensitive to the toxin than others, so not everyone in a family who is infected will have the rash, even if they have the throat infection. Sometimes the area of infection is the skin rather than the throat, a condition called impetigo. Scarlet fever is contagious to people who come into close contact with an infected child. Complications are rare but can include deeper tissue infections, rheumatic fever, and kidney disease.
German measles (rubella) is caused by the rubella virus and spreads among humans through contact with fluids in the respiratory tract. The incubation period is 14–21 days before starting to feel ill, and a rash accompanied by fever appears one to seven days later. German measles occurs more commonly in the spring and summer months. Even in a person with a weak immune system, German measles is usually a mild illness. However, if a pregnant woman becomes infected, German measles can cause severe damage to the unborn baby.
Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a tiny parasite (mite) called Sarcoptes scabiei that can live and multiply on skin.
Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the tissue on the surface of the eye and/or the inside lining of the eyelids.
Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) is a common mild infection of the scalp and hair that appears as scaly spots and patches of broken hair on the head.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (not related to foot-and-mouth disease seen in animals) is a suddenly appearing disease caused by viruses.