Whooping Cough

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious bacterial infection.  This infection causes uncontrollable, violent, coughing, which can make it extremely difficult to breathe.  Symptoms are initially mild, but progress into coughing fits that have an unmistakeable, high-pitched, “whooping” sound as the infected person tries to inhale air after coughing.  The coughing stage of the disease can be extremely long, usually lasting at least six weeks before subsiding.  Vaccination for the disease is of primary importance to its prevention.  Once contracted, antibacterial medications can shorten the duration of infection and are recommended.  It is estimated that this disease affects over forty-eight million people worldwide and results in excess of 295,000 deaths each year.  This not a disease to be taken lightly and if the number of Internet searches for whooping cough is any indication, reported to be more than 3 million per month by one of the top SEO companies in the industry, it is being taken very seriously by a lot of people.  Thankfully, vaccinations provide an effective way to ensure that your child does not contract this dangerous and potentially deadly disease.

Causes of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract involving the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis.  This disease is extremely serious and can cause permanent disability and death in young children and infants.  The disease is spread through the air.  When an infected person sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of saliva containing the bacteria are ejected into the air.  Once in the air, the droplets are inhaled by another person and disease has spread to a new host.  The infections usually last six weeks, although more serious infections that last longer are not uncommon.  Whooping cough can affect people of any age.  It is most dangerous to very young children and infants.  Historically, whooping cough was found in young children but the advent of a vaccine has caused the volume of cases to shift to teens, adolescents, and adults.


The initial symptoms of whooping cough mirror those of the common cold and develop about a week after exposure to the bacteria.  Severe episodes of coughing generally begin about ten to twelve days later.  The coughs end with a “whoop” noise caused by the patient’s attempt to inhale air while coughing.  The “whoop” noise is rare in patients under the age of six months and adults.  It is possible for the coughing spells to lead to a short loss of consciousness or bouts of vomiting.  Whooping cough should always be considered the culprit when a bout of coughing lead to vomiting.  In infants, choking spells are common.

Treatment and Expectations

The best treatment for whooping cough is to stop it before it begins by having your children vaccinated.  However, if they do develop the disease it is important to see your physician immediately.  If started early, antibiotics can make the symptoms subside much more quickly.  Sadly, the majority of patients are not diagnosed until later and the antibiotics do not help much to quell the symptoms.  However, antibiotics are still effective at reducing the patients ability to spread the disease.  Infants younger than eighteen months of age need to be constantly supervised because their breathing may temporarily stop during coughing spells. Infants who develop severe cases should be hospitalized.  Other treatments include an oxygen tent with high humidity.  Intravenous fluids may be necessary to keep the patient hydrated.  Older children generally have a good prognosis.  In infants, however, the disease needs to be closely monitored because it can be fatal.


Complications from whooping cough may include: Pneumonia, convulsions, seizure disorder (which is permanent), nose bleed, ear infections, brain damage from lack of oxygen, cerebral hemorrhage, mental retardation, slowed or stopped breathing, and death.

Although it has a silly name whooping cough is a serious disease, especially for very young children and infants.  Although it has been eradicated from the very young of Western countries by vaccines it still ravages poorer countries.  Whooping cough is one major reason that people should vaccinate their children.  As a debate has begun over the health benefits and risks posed by vaccines, it is important to remember that they do prevent diseases, many of which are deadly, from occurring.  All children should be vaccinated for a highly contagious, dangerous, disease such as whooping cough.  It just takes one sick kid to get near a baby to pass a potentially life-threatening disease to an infant.  My brother developed whooping cough in his late teens and it lasted for at least three months.  The almost constant coughing was a terrible annoyance to him (and the rest of the house) and you could tell that long fits of coughing caused him definite physical pain.  This is not a disease to play around with.  Vaccinate your kids, wash your hands, and help prevent the spread of this awful disease.

Kawasaki Disease

Kawasaki disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the medium sized blood vessels in the body to become inflamed.  It is generally seen in children under the age of five.  It affects many organ systems including the blood vessels, skin, mucus membranes, and lymph nodes.  Its most serious effect is on the heart where it can cause a fatal condition in untreated children.  Without treatment, the mortality rate is about one percent in the United States.  With treatment the mortality rate is.001 percent.  Kawasaki disease is most prevalent in Japan, where it was first discovered in 1967.  It remains a very poorly understood disease whose cause remains undetermined.  Kawasaki disease is an interesting disease that was discovered relatively recently and is still being vigorously researched by scientists around the world.

Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease

The initial symptom of Kawasaki disease is often a high, persistent, fever greater than 102 and sometimes as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  The fever often lasts as long as five days and is generally not affected by the use of over the counter fever reducing drugs like Tylenol or Motrin.  Other symptoms include: extremely red, bloodshot, eyes with no pus or drainage; bright red, chapped and cracked lips; red mucous membranes in the mouth; a “strawberry” tongue covered with white coating and red bumps; red palms on the hands and feet; swollen hands and feet; skin rashes on the hands and feet; peeling skin; swollen lymph nodes; and joint pain and swelling.


There is no test to specifically diagnose Kawasaki disease.  The diagnosis is usually made based in the patient’s classic symptoms.  Any child with a high fever lasting longer than five days should be checked for Kawasaki disease.  In fact, some doctors are now advising that children who present with a fever lasting three days long and who show several of the other symptoms should see a doctor as well.  Doctors usually perform a battery of tests on their patients to aid them in their diagnosis.  This battery of tests includes, but is not limited to, a chest x-ray, complete blood count, c-reactive protein test, echo-cardiogram, electrocardiogram, ESR, serum albumin, serum transaminase, and urinalysis.

Treatment and Prognosis

Children diagnosed with Kawasaki disease are admitted to the hospital for treatment.  It is imperative that treatment begin as soon as the patient is diagnosed in order to prevent damage to the coronary artery and the heart.  The standard treatment is intravenous gamma globulin given in high doses.  The child’s condition usually greatly improves after the first treatment.  With early diagnosis and prompt treatment a full recovery can be expected.  It is rare for symptoms to reoccur after a patient has been treated.  Patients who have been treated for Kawasaki disease should receive an echo-cardiogram every one to two years to screen for heart disease.


The cause of Kawasaki disease is still unknown.  However, like most autoimmune diseases it is presumably caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, possibly including an infection.  There is some evidence that the cause could be a wind born pathogen but no conclusive evidence has yet been found.


Kawasaki disease is a relatively new disease whose cause and origin are still managing to elude scientists and doctors.  This is a serious disease that requires immediate diagnosis and treatment.  It is not likely to be fatal, with only one percent of untreated children die as a result, but it can cause serious problems in other organ systems in the body.  If you are worried your child is suffering from Kawasaki disease take them to your physician as soon as possible.  The early treatment is started the better chance your child has of making a full recovery.  Kawasaki disease is an interesting case in that it was so recently discovered and is so little understood.  There are not many diseases whose cause is still unknown.  There are many scientists around the world working tirelessly to discover the cause of this disease so that we can hopefully begin working on a preventive  cure.

Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is a very common childhood disease.  It is caused by a viral attack that leads to a rash on the cheeks, arms and legs.  Fifth disease is also called “slapped cheek” disease because the rash on the cheeks looks like the result of a slap.  The name “fifth disease” is a holdover from old French medical terminology.  Fifth disease is caused by the virus called human parvovirus B19.  Twenty percent of children contract the disease by age five and that number jumps to sixty percent by age nineteen.  The infection is not serious and goes away about a week after symptoms first appear.

Symptoms of Fifth Disease

Early symptoms of fifth disease mimic those of the flu.  They include a runny nose, sore throat, headache, belly pain, mild fever (around 100 degrees Farenhite), body weakness and joint pain.  Those symptoms are followed by a distinctive rash several days later.  The rash follows a predictable patters, usually in three stages.  During the first stage, a bright red rash occurs in the sides of the face and sometimes the forehead and chin.  This rash fades within two to five days.  The second stage of the rash appears on the neck, trunk, forearms, upper legs and buttocks.  This second stage lasts less then a week.  The third stage of the rash only appears if the person is out in the sun or becomes stressed.  This third stage lasts about one to three weeks.  The symptoms of fifth disease generally arise two to three weeks after exposure to the virus.  When adults contract the disease they commonly experience joint pain in their hands, wrists, ankles and feet.

Treatment of Fifth Disease

For normal, healthy, people home treatment is all that is needed to treat fifth disease.  This includes rest, drinking a lot of fluids and taking over the counter fever and pain relievers like Tylenol or Motrin.  Many people mistakenly believe that the reappearance of the rash is an indication that the disease is more serious and needs further treatment.  This is not true.  The rash often goes away and then reappears, often caused by exposure to the sun or stress.  People who are at risk or have compromised immune symptoms require slightly more attention and care.  They need close monitoring by a doctor after exposure to to the disease or when they begin showing symptoms.  If the disease is serious they may need to spend several nights in a hospital as a precaution.  Pregnant women exposed to the disease may require blood test to see if they have contracted the disease.  If they have, their doctors may want to order fetal ultrasounds to monitor the health of the fetus.

Control the Spread of Fifth Disease

By the time the rash appears, you can no longer spread the disease to anyone else. After a child gets a rash, he or she may return to school or day care.  People known to have fifth disease, including those who have complications, should take measures to prevent spreading the virus. The best preventative measure is to wash your hands.  Patients hospitalized for fifth disease may be isolated from other patients so they do not spread the disease.


Despite its foreboding and intimidating name, fifth disease is a common illness, which afflicts the majority of young people by the time they reach adulthood.  The disease is not serious and only causes some mild flu like symptoms and a rash.  I personally have never experienced fifth disease.  I am sure I had it as a child but was too young or the disease was too insignificant for me to remember it now.  If your child contracts fifth disease do not worry.  It is a mild disease that will likely go away within a week.  You should try to halt the spread pf the disease by keeping your child out of social situations.  Don’t send your child to school or daycare until the rash has appeared and the disease is no longer communicable.  Be sure to wash your hands and your children’s hands.  Make your sick child rest and he or she will be back on her feet and healthy again in no time.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

As disgusting as it sounds, hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood disease.  It is a viral disease that causes lesions and sores in the mouth and on the hands, feet and, sometimes, the buttocks and legs.  The mouth sores can be extremely painful and make it hard for the sufferer to eat.  Although the disease can have very painful symptoms, it is not serious and generally goes away in about a week.  Hand, foot, and mouth disease can occur at any time of the year but is most common during the summer and fall.  Although the name of this disease sounds much like foot and mouth disease, the two are completely different.  Foot and mouth disease only occurs in animals.  If your child is suffering from hand, foot, and mouth disease take them to see your physician, but do not worry, the disease is fairly harmless and should clear up in a matter of days.

Causes of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease 

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a viral infection.  The virus is spread by easily through coughing and sneezing, as well as coming in contact with infected fecal matter.  Often the disease breaks out within a community because of it is so easy to spread.  Children are most likely to spread the disease during the first several days of infection.  The virus stays in stool and can be transmitted for months after the symptoms have subsided.  Because of this take precautions while changing your child’s diaper.  Wear gloves and be sure to wash your hands after you finish.  The disease has a three to six day incubation period after exposure.

Symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

The first symptom of this disease is usually exhaustion.  After that, your child will likely begin complaining of a sore throat and have a fever of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit.  Several days after the first symptoms, severe blisters may materialize on your child’s hands, feet, and, sometimes, legs and buttocks.  In some cases your child may present with a rash before the blisters disappear.  The blisters may break and crust over.  They generally are gone within a week.

Treatment for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease generally does not require treatment.  Most cases go away in seven to ten days.  There are several easy home care methods you can employ to help ease your child’s suffering while waiting for the disease to subside.  Offer your child plenty of cold fluids.  Frozen treats like ice pops and ice cream may help as well.  Do not give you child acidic or spicy foods such as salsa or orange juice.  Foods such as these can irritate the mouth and throat sores causing pain.  For pain and fever, give your child over the counter medications, like Tylenol or Motrin.

Containing Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

To contain hand, foot, and mouth disease, wash your hands.  It is especially important to wash your hands after you change the diaper of an infected child. This is because the virus may stay in the stool for several months after the blisters heal.


I know from experience that hand, foot, and mouth disease is awful.  I was unlucky enough to avoid contracting the disease as a child and instead catch it as an adult.  It is excruciatingly painful.  The sores in your mouth and throat make eating, and even drinking, almost impossible.  I have broken bones, had a root canal and I would have to say that this was the most painful thing I have ever had to endure.  The pain is constant and does not respond to normal pain medications like Tylenol or Motrin.  If you child is unlucky enough to contract this disease the best thing you can do is attempt to keep them comfortable until the symptoms subside.  I found that water was the only liquid I could drink without doubling over in pain.  Definitely avoid giving them drinks like soda or any citrus.  My symptoms lasted roughly a week.  It was nearly impossible to eat, but I was able to tough through some yogurt and other foods that were easy on my sores.  If your child is sick, make them eat.  It will hurt, but they need to eat healthy to get healthy.  Finally, wash your hands.  Believe me, you do not want to contract this disease.