Tag Archives: contagious illness

Are The Mumps Making a Comeback?

Do you remember seeing the pockets of hockey players becoming infected with the long-unheard-of mumps in the news recently? It’s true – according to the CDC, the mumps is making a vehement comeback, reaching a 10-year high. It is highly contagious and can spread through saliva or respiratory droplets. But if you were vaccinated against the mumps as a child, you have nothing to worry about, right? Not necessarily. Did you know the vaccine wears off after about 15 years? Therefor, it is important to go back and get that second one to ensure you keep this highly contagious illness at bay.

What Are the Symptoms to Look Out For?

Symptoms of the mumps include:

  • Aches and pains
  • A fever
  • A persistent headache
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the testicles or ovaries
  • The signature ‘chipmunk cheeks’ caused by swelling of the salivary glands.

The mumps often resolves itself after a period of significant discomfort, but sometimes there are unfortunate lasting effects such as infertility or deafness. It can also lead to an infection around the brain (meningitis), which can be deadly.

Who Is Primarily Affected by the Recent Outbreak, and Why?

The mumps can strike anyone (who isn’t already immune to the disease), but recent outbreaks appear to strike young adults more often. The reason? One of two. One: the infected young people weren’t vaccinated to begin with or, two: they happened to be born between the early 1970’s and 1994, before a second vaccination in adolescents became common practice. This age group comprised a small gap in the herd immunity that wouldn’t have received their second mumps vaccination. So, what’s the best way around this? To check out your medical record and see if you fell in the category of people who didn’t receive their second immunity shot, and if you did, go get yours today!

How Can the Mumps be Prevented?

Unlike some diseases, outbreaks can be rather silent and unpredictable because they are most contagious and spread quickly during their incubation period before symptoms even show up. So, how to protect yourself against an unpredictable disease? While the measles mumps vaccine isn’t 100% proof against the diseases, it does have a very high effectivity when both doses are taken appropriately. Therefor, getting yourself and your family vaccinated is simply the best protective measure you can take against diseases like the mumps or measles.

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Handwashing – First Line Defense Against Contagions

Aside from getting your annual flu shot, thorough handwashing is the gold standard in flu prevention. It is also your best line of defense against other contagious illnesses like stomach bugs, colds, infections and much more. Regular handwashing among healthcare workers can greatly reduce the number of serious (and deadly) healthcare associated infections in patients. Those who make a practice of regular handwashing are not only helping themselves by removing dirt and contagions from their paws, but also helping prevent the spread of those germs to others.

Let’s take a closer look at how, where and when to get your handwashing on…

When to Wash Up?

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that everyone make a habit of handwashing during the following situations:

  • Before, during and after preparing food (especially meat)
  • Before eating
  • Before and after assisting a sick person in a home or clinical setting
  • Every time you use the washroom (this one should be a no brainer!)
  • After changing a diaper or helping a child use the washroom
  • Before and after tending to a wound
  • After touching an animal or handling a pet’s food, toys or waste
  • After handling garbage
  • After you sneeze, blow your nose or cough
  • Whenever your hands are visibly dirty
  • After being anywhere public where you could have come in contact with contagions

Am I Doing it Right?

Sometimes we may just flick our hands under running water after blowing our noses or chopping veggies, thinking there is no need for a deep wash every time. This is not the attitude to have. The best way to remove germs on your hands is to wet them, lather the front and backs of your hands thoroughly with soap and wash for at least 20 seconds under warm running water every time you wash them.

What Kind of Soap to Use?

Contrary to popular belief, “antibacterial” soap offers no clear advantages over standard soap, and may even have some potentially dangerous disadvantages. Liquid soap may have a leg up when it comes to hygiene, especially in a public area where a bar of soap has been frequently handled by the public. In your own home, a mild bar or liquid soap will both do the job.

What About Hand Sanitizer?

Studies have proven thorough handwashing with soap and warm water to be more effective at deep cleaning than using hand sanitizer, however sanitizer is a close second if you aren’t around any sinks. If running water and soap isn’t accessible, be sure to choose hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Try to Find a Balance

Having said all this, it is important not to let yourself become too focused on handwashing and germs to the point you find yourself washing your hands over-zealously, as that can lead to mental health hurdles as well as contact dermatitis. Just stick to the times and method we’ve outlined in our post, and you should be adequately protected.

We’ll be testing you on all these handwashing tidbits in the future, so stay tuned for a handwashing quiz coming up soon! Thanks for visiting DocChat!




Infectious Childhood Diseases To Watch Out For

  1. Impetigo – Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection that is most often contracted by children, often spreading through groups of children at day-cares and schools. It usually starts as facial sores around the mouth that become crusty upon eruption. It can spread to other parts of the body, and in rare cases develops into a more serious form called ecthyma which burrows into deeper layers of the skin and causes ulcers. Impetigo is treated with antibiotics and children are usually expected to stay home from school so as not to further the spread of the infection.
  2. Kawasaki Disease – is a rare but serious condition that predominantly effects children under 5 years of age. It presents as high and lengthy fever, swelling of the extremities, chapped, red lips and a rash. The symptoms can resemble those of allergies, however if the condition goes undetected it could eventually lead to heart damage or even death, so if your child is experiencing symptoms such as these, be sure to get him or her checked right away and ask your doctor about testing for Kawasaki.
  3. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – is the leading cause of acute lung afflictions like bronchitis and pneumonia among babies. The symptoms are similar to those of the flu including congestion, a fever, a cough or wheezing. 2% of small children will develop such serious symptoms they will require hospitalization.
  1. Scarlet Fever – is caused by the same group of bacteria that is responsible for Strep throat. The two infections don’t always go together but can occur simultaneously. Scarlet fever can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms in children including the signature “scarlet colored” rash on various parts of the body, a coated tongue, fever, swollen glands, the chills, aches, vomiting or nausea. While scarlet fever used to be a dreaded and life-threatening disease before the availability of antibiotics, today treatment is as simple as a course of medication.
  2. Whooping Cough – Also known as pertussis, this contagious affliction can be serious, especially for babies (half of the babies who contract it become hospitalized). Early symptoms mimic the flu, then progress to include apnea (pauses in breathing), a bad cough, vomiting, exhaustion and paroxysms (coughing fits) followed by a signature “whooping” noise when the child tries to regain their breath. Luckily the vaccine brings these symptoms down to a minimum or can prevent a child entirely from catching pertussis, so be sure to keep your child’s vaccinations up to date.
  3. Fifth Disease – is caused by parvovirus B19 and can cause an itchy skin rash all over the body, fever, runny nose and headache. It has been known to cause joint pain mainly in women who contract the disease. It can cause complications in rare cases such as anemia in the immunocompromised. It is spread through respiratory secretions, and usually resolves itself within a couple weeks. However, if symptoms are not going away you should talk to your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians for treatment options.


To avoid these troublesome afflictions from effecting your child or family, be sure to instill proper hygiene techniques in your little one, such as washing hands frequently with warm water and soap for the length of two run-throughs of the “Happy Birthday” song. Encourage your child not to put their hands near their face or in their mouths when they are in public. The best preventative measure against many childhood illnesses is to make sure your child is up to date on their immunizations and vaccinations. If your child does become ill with any of these conditions, keep them home to recover so they don’t infect other children.

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