Friday, June 6, 2014

Contagious Periods for Common Childhood Diseases

Most of the time, my blog posts are inspired by real life... my life to be exact, which is why you will find a bunch of stuff on here about being a mom, having a family and being a speech therapist. That pretty much covers all the bases when it comes to me lately. So, with that in mind, I'm going to be sharing with you guys some information and a rant about something that has been nagging me for several months.

Now, I'm pretty riled up about this right now, so YES I'm striking while the iron is hot, so-to-speak, but I'm getting to the point in life/mommyhood where I really could give two sh--s about whether you like me or not if it's about my kid. I'm sorry if things come out brash or rude. Most of the time, I am a very likable/reasonable person. But, y'all, I got my mama bear claws out, and I'm ready to roll.

Here is the topic. Childhood diseases. Yes. Diseases. Sure, I could say illnesses or ailments, but I feel like "diseases" is more dramatic and gives you a more intense mental image.

Yes. I know that kids get sick all the time. I completely get that - believe me. I'm writing this post from the perspective of a mother but also as a healthcare provider who runs her own business. I work with kids day in and day out, and I have two little germ-collectors myself.

I know that babies specifically put every damn thing they can get their hands on in their mouth. Block? Mouth. Bib? Mouth. Hand that was just in another kid's mouth? Mouth. Daddy's flip flops? Mouth (a very enthusiastic mouth). Shoe laces? Another very enthusiastic mouth.

I also know that there are times that parents do not know that their little cherub is carrying a lovely virus (that is shedding and spreading by the minute to all the other little kiddos) because the kiddo isn't showing symptoms yet.

Let me also share that I am not referring to the common cold and/or the common cough. Because let's be real - all of our kids have a runny nose at least 1/2 the year.

I'm not trying to be a you-know-what, I'm just trying to cover my bases before I go off.

Also before I go off, I did a little research on some of the most common childhood diseases.

1. RSV - this little bugger is a monster cold virus characterized by extreme runny nose (get out the Nose Frida), fever, and coughing. RSV is the number one cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children under a year old. Telltale sign of RSV is wheezing. Lasts for 1-2 weeks.
2. Fifth Disease - this disease is also known as "slapped cheek disease" because it looks like the infected person got slapped across the face (red marks). Redness can also be seen on the kiddo's tummy and arms/legs. This disease, albeit contagious, is usually mistaken for a common cold until the red cheeks pop up. It's not a serious disease; it's very benign in nature. This is one of those diseases where you don't know your kid has it until it's too late and he's given it to everyone on the playground. Good thing it's nothing serious. Lasts for about 7-10 days.
3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease - this illness starts off with a fever, sore throat, lack of appetite and runny nose and finishes out with lesions (blisters/rash) on (you guessed it) your kiddo's hands, feet and mouth. It is also common to see blisters on their bottoms too.
4. Croup - This is the cough your kiddo gets when they sound like a seal barking. It is rarely fatal, but sometimes kiddos end up having to go to the hospital if the cough is severe enough. Croup typically lasts for a week 
5. Impetigo - This is a very contagious skin infection characterized by clusters of itchy little bumps or sores that weep fluid, forming a honey-colored crust over them. The infection can clear up with a prescription antibiotic.
6. Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - This is a contagious bacterial infection characterized by rapid and severe coughing. Lucky for us, there is a VACCINE for this infection, but you have to be re-vaccinated every 5-10 years. Yep, vaccinations, y'all. I'm on that train. The pro-vaccinations train. CHOO CHOO.

Schools, daycares, extracurricular activities - they all have a pretty universal sick policy which states that a kiddo must be symptom free (diarrhea, vomit, fever, etc) for at least 24 hours before being around a bunch of other kids. This is, in entirety, to try to prevent the spread of disease (buzzword) among our precious beloved children.

Some parents are very cognizant of this policy and adhere to it. I, myself, have missed days upon days of work over the last 11 months to sit at home with my little angel and give her tylenol/ibuprofen/Pedialyte/snuggles/love while she is sick. There is no other place I would want her to be than in my arms while she is feeling sick. Other parents are not so cognizant. I know the excuses. "Oh he/she is totally fine, running all over the place now." "If I miss work, my boss will fire me." "He/she isn't contagious anymore." Among others. Blah, blah, blah, is what I say to ALL that.

I could just kiss Children's Health Network directly on the smacker for posting this webpage about Infections: Incubation and Contagious Periods. I need everyone to take a serious look at this page. You know I couldn't leave you guys without a little cheat sheet, so I'm including the contagious periods of some of the most common childhood diseases below for you to print out and include with all of your children's medications, right next to your handy dandy infant tylenol dosage chart based on weight for all of you parents out there who DON'T think Tylenol is the devil.

What exactly do I mean by "contagious period"? I mean don't take your children around other children during this "contagious period" so that they (indirectly YOU) don't get a bunch of other kiddos sick. THAT'S what I mean by "contagious period."

I actually know people who knowingly expose other kiddos to whatever crap their kid has going on because they can't miss work, don't want to stay home with them, don't want to cancel plans, etc. You're right --- half the time, it's too late to prevent the spread of some disease. But the other half is due in large part to human error, and to be specific, PARENT-ERROR. Do you expect your 2 year old to come up to you and say "hey mom, you know I was thinking, I've only been on antibiotics for 1/2 a day for this raging case of strep I have, I probably shouldn't go to the babysitter today." HELL to the no!

Of course there is conflicting information on the contagious periods of some of these diseases, and as always, there is a grey area with some. Best bet is to err on the side of caution, and also ask your pediatrician if you are unsure.


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