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Childhood Diseases…You’ll Be Glad You Didn’t Have!

While we might not like to get our “shots” at the pediatrician or health department, that is a lot better than getting these diseases. (I know—I had most of them!) Some are caused by viruses; others by bacteria. Most of these diseases are very contagious. When you get a vaccine at the right age, you can usually skip that disease and be immune to it for life.

Measles: Very contagious! Can quickly pass through a classroom or a school. Caused by the measles virus. Lasts about 7-10 days. Symptoms=high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a red rash over much of your body. It’s no fun to be out of school when you feel so

bad. Girls, you won’t want to look in the mirror! Measles is also very dangerous for women who are pregnant.


It’s a funny name, but there’s nothing funny about this viral disease that is very contagious. You may have a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and a loss of appetite. But even worse, your salivary glands will swell so that you look like a chipmunk! Your cheeks and neck will be very sore and tender. Mumps last about two weeks.


No one likes the sound of any disease with the word “pox” in it. Chickenpox is caused by a virus that gives you a red, itchy rash on your face, back, chest, and pretty much any place it wants to go. The blisters burst and scab over. The worse thing is that you are not supposed to scratch them. If you do, they may get infected or leave scars.


A serious disease caused by bacteria that makes a type of toxin (poison) that can make it hard to breathe, affect your heart, cause paralysis, and even death. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for this disease, which is now not so common in the United States. You can get it when someone who has it coughs or sneezes, by sharing drinks, or (yikes!) kissing!

Scarlet Fever

This bacterial illness can develop when you have strep throat. Symptoms include a bright red rash that covers most of your body, a sore throat, and a high fever. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Whooping Cough

A very contagious disease that affects the respiratory tract. It is very dangerous for babies. You may have a runny nose and bad cough that makes a “whooping” sound.

An important thing to remember about “childhood” diseases is that most can affect infants, children, and even young adults. This is another reason that getting the right vaccines at the right time is good for your health.


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