The Maldives Health Protection Agency (HPA) tweeted last month a list of six infectious diseases/illnesses that are “spreading rapidly right now” and telling the public that precautions are important.
The six include cold and fever, chickenpox, hand, foot and mouth disease, conjunctivitis, diarrhea and dengue fever.
Let’s look at a few of these diseases:
Chickenpox (varicella) is easily passed from one person to another through the air by coughing or sneezing or through the fluid from a blister of a person who has chickenpox. Although it is usually not a serious illness, it often causes children and their parents to miss days at school and work. Most cases of chickenpox in healthy children are treated with bed rest, fluids, and fever control.
Chickenpox can be more severe and cause more complications in immunocompromised persons, children younger than 1 year of age and adults. Severe complications include bacterial skin infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (infection of the brain) and death.
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It is important to be aware that even healthy children and adults may develop serious complications and die from varicella. Another high-risk group is pregnant women who, if they become ill with varicella, can have pregnancy complications. Not only is chickenpox painful, but once you have been infected with chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles later in life, which is also very painful and can cause lasting chronic pain in adults.
The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent becoming ill and spreading the varicella virus. It is very safe and prevents almost all cases of severe illness.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.
It is spread to others by close personal contact, coughing or sneezing or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. It can be difficult to eradicate in schools, group living communities and daycares. Although it is not serious for most people, the infection can cause significant pain while eating, walking and writing.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses. Coxsackievirus is the most common cause of HFMD.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
A person can lower their risk of being infected by
- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys.
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is a common eye ailment caused by an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear, thin membrane that covers the white portion of the eyes as well as the inner surface of the eyelids.
The three common causes of pink eye are viral, bacterial and allergic. The symptoms of each form are listed below:
Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms
• Watery eyes accompanied with discharge are usual.
• Discomfort in the eye with itchiness maybe present.
• The infection usually affects one eye but can move to both.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis Symptoms
• Watery eyes followed with yellow or green discharge are natural occurrences.
• Irritation can be found along with an itchy feeling.
• The infection usually starts with one eye and can spread to the other.
Allergic Conjunctivitis Symptoms
• Heavy tearing, discomfort, and itchiness affecting both eyes are especially likely.
Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious. Only bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics.
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