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Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is a respiratory illness that usually affects young children. This viral infection is usually caused by RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). This viral infection affects the lower respiratory tract. Tiny airways to the lungs (bronchioles) get inflamed and make breathing difficult. Since the bronchioles of an infant and young child are narrow, they tend to get blocked easily. Bronchiolitis is highly contagious and spreads through coughing, sneezing of the infected person.


Premature infants or those suffering from congenital heart defects are at increased risk for developing Bronchiolitis. Children growing in crowded environment or in day-care facilities are at higher risk for contracting Bronchiolitis. Formula-fed infants are at higher risk for developing bronchiolitis. Typical symptoms of bronchiolitis include runny nose and cough. There might be wheezing and rapid heartbeat. Children suffering from bronchiolitis may be irritable and have poor appetite. The infected child may have mild fever and breathing problems. In some cases, the baby may develop a bluish tinge on the lips or fingers.


Chest x-ray and blood test can help in diagnosing bronchiolitis. A nasopharyngeal swab can reveal presence of RSV or any other virus. While mild cases of bronchiolitis can be managed with home care, severe cases need hospitalization. Bronchodilator drugs can help alleviate breathing difficulties. Suction of the infant's mouth and nose provides relief from stuffiness and breathing problems.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that affects persons who have not been vaccinated against it. The MMR vaccine, which is part of the scheduled immunization schedule affords protection against this viral infection. In severe cases, measles can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia or encephalitis. Rubella is another kind of measles but it is caused due to a different virus.


Measles is highly contagious and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infected children must be kept at home. Rash associated with measles is red and blotchy all over the body. Other symptoms of measles include fever, headache and loss of appetite. The patient may have cough and runny nose. Often mild conjunctivitis is also noticed. There are small whitish spots inside the mouth and cheek. They are called Koplik's spots. Typically a bout of measles lasts for 2 - 3 weeks till the rashes completely disappear.


Fifth Disease

Fifth disease, also known as Erythema Infectiosum or Slapped Cheek Syndrome, is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19 that leads to a rash on the cheeks, arms, and legs. It is known as fifth disease as Parvovirus infection is one of the five common illnesses that develop with red rash during childhood. It is most common in children between the age group of 5 and 15 and usually occurs in winter and spring. Fifth disease usually is a mild illness. It is contagious and spreads through direct contact with fluids or mucus from the nose or mouth of an infected person. Though rare, adults can also become infected with virus and develop fifth disease. However, the symptoms and the severity of the disease vary between children and adults.


Symptoms

The symptoms of fifth disease almost resemble flu with mild fever, headache, cough runny nose and muscle ache. Stomach related symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also develop in due course. These symptoms subside after 3 or 4 days and only then the red rash will start to surface, initially on the cheek and later spreading to arms, chest and even legs. The rash has a lace like pattern at the time of fading. At this stage, the disease is no longer contagious and the child can be allowed to attend school or day care. In adults, fifth disease also gives rise to joint pains, but this is very uncommon in children. The incubation period for fifth disease ranges from 4 to 28 days and the rash usually lasts for 1 to 3 weeks. Normally fifth disease is diagnosed after noticing the rash on the cheek.


Treatment

Fifth disease is rarely threatening and clears off on its own without any aggressive treatment. Doctors generally prescribe acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat fever and other flu like symptoms. Adequate rest, plenty of fluids and avoiding exposure to sun and heat helps immensely in relieving the symptoms. 


Complications

Fifth disease does not cause any complications in normal cases. However patients with certain underlying conditions such as autoimmune disorders, sickle-cell anemia, Aplastic anemia, Spherocytosis and low count of red blood cells need to be highly watchful of the disease as it can cause serious complications for them. They should seek immediate medical attention in case of suspicion to avoid further damage.


Fifth disease can also be dangerous to pregnant woman. In rare cases, the disease can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. In such a condition, the baby will develop severe anemia with low red blood count leading to heart failure. Hence it is very important for pregnant women to avoid exposure to the disease and maintain hygiene throughout the term.


Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent the infection and also no medication is available to treat it. It is best to prevent the disease by following certain steps like:


  • Frequent washing of hands with medicated soap.
  • Disposing used tissues or hand towels carefully.
  • Covering your mouth when sneezing, coughing, etc.
  • Avoiding contact with those who have Fifth disease.

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Bibliography / Reference

Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019