Common infectious diseases

What are common paediatric infectious diseases?

Children are exposed to many other children and various germs; therefore, infectious diseases spread rapidly, especially in children who are attending preschool and school. Infectious diseases are diseases that are caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Infectious diseases are diseases that are contagious but treatable such as:

Gold Star Malaria
This is a common infection that is found in hot, tropical areas. Malaria is caused by parasites carried by mosquitos who have bitten someone who already has the disease. It can cause mild illness in some children and may be life-threatening in others.

Symptoms of malaria include irritability, drowsiness, poor appetite and trouble sleeping. These symptoms are normally accompanied by chills and then a fever with fast breathing. The fever may gradually rise in 1 to 2 days or spike very suddenly to 40.6°C or higher.

Gold Star Pneumonia
This is an infection of the lungs that may be mild or serious. Pneumonia is more common in children under the age of 5. It is caused by either bacteria or a virus, which may be spread by direct contact with a person that has pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia may occur suddenly, causing symptoms such as a cough that produces mucus, vomiting or diarrhoea, fever, loss of appetite and tiredness.

Early symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as those of bacterial pneumonia. Breathing problems gradually occur with viral pneumonia, which may be accompanied by wheezing and a cough that gets worse. Other symptoms include chills, headache, fussiness and fast or hard breathing.

Gold Star Diarrhoea
This is a condition where bowel movements (stools) are loose and watery. Your child may need to go to the bathroom more often than normal. Diarrhoea is a common problem that may last 1-2 days and go away on its own. If it lasts for more than two days, it may indicate a serious problem.

Diarrhoea may be caused by a bacterial infection, viral infection, parasites entering the body, food intolerance, or food allergy. It can cause symptoms such as cramping, abdominal pain, swelling (bloating), nausea, fever, urgent need to go to the bathroom, incontinence, bloody stools and loss of body fluids (dehydration).

Gold Star HIV
This is a virus that attacks the immune system, making children with HIV more vulnerable to infections and diseases. Children may be born with HIV or contract it soon after birth during gestation (passing through the placenta), during delivery (through the transfer of blood or other fluids), or while breastfeeding.

An infant with HIV may not have any noticeable signs and symptoms at first, however as the immune system weakens, symptoms may be noticeable and may include lack of energy, frequent diarrhoea, persistent fever, delayed growth and development, and repeated or prolonged infections that don't respond well to treatment. Teens may experience symptoms such as oral thrush, frequent vaginal yeast infections, skin rash, kidney problems, lung infections, and memory and concentration problems.

Gold Star Tuberculosis (TB)
This is a chronic infection of the lungs that is caused by bacteria. Other organs such as the spine, kidneys, or brain may also be affected by TB. Normally, TB is spread through droplets breathed or coughed into the air.

Symptoms occur differently in each child and depend on the child's age. The most common symptoms of TB include fever, weight loss, poor growth, swollen glands, decrease in appetite, chills, cough and sweating at night.

How are infectious diseases treated?

Infectious disease treatment depends on the cause of the disease. If the disease is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed, and antiviral medications may be prescribed if the disease is caused by a virus. Antiretroviral therapy will be prescribed to help manage HIV as well as prevent HIV progression and transmission.


Are there any vaccines available to prevent HIV?

Currently, there are no approved vaccines that prevent HIV.

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

Pneumonia is normally diagnosed with tests such as a chest x-ray, chest CT scan, bronchoscopy, pleural fluid culture, sputum culture and blood tests.

How is malaria diagnosed?

Malaria may be diagnosed by taking a blood sample and checking it under a microscope for malaria parasites, which are seen inside infected red blood cells.

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When should my child see a Paediatrician

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Visits with your paediatrician should begin as soon as your child is born. This allows you to become familiar with your child’s doctor, and also allows your child’s health to be monitored from an early age.

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