The virus that causes chickenpox also gives us shingles. So if you have chickenpox as a child the virus will stay in the nerve cells in your body and you could get shingles at any time. About 25 per cent of adults get shingles.
The most common symptoms are tender skin that becomes red after a day or two. Tiny fluid-filled blisters appear, usually on the chest or stomach. The blistes contain the virus so it’s important to avoid contact with the fluid.
What to do: See your doctor immediately as antiviral treatment is more effective within 24 to 72 hours of a rash appearing.
Measles is rare in Singapore thanks to mandated MMR vaccinations but it can be brought in by travellers. It’s spread through droplets, mostly transferred through coughing and sneezing, so if someone touches the droplets then touches their mouth or nose, they are at risk.
Very young children and adults are at greater risk of complications such as inflammation of the middle ear, pneumonia, and brain inflammation or encephalitis.
What to do: Complications require specialised treatment. Without complications, measles lasts for about 14 days and the usual treatment is bed rest, lots of fluids and paracetamol to manage the pain and fever.
This infection is caused by the streptococcus (Group A) germ that often leads to sore throats. If not treated properly it can lead to complications that can have effects into adulthood.
Signs of strep throat include a sore, red throat with thick pus-like fluid around the tonsils. Other indicators are fever, chills and enlarged an tender lymph nodes around the neck.
What to do: Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment and most people see symptoms ease within 24 to 48 hours of taking the. Over-the-counter painkillers can help, as can gargling with saltwater.
Known as threadworms or pinworms, these are usually less than 1 cm long and live in the small intestine.
Children are more likely to pick up pinworms because of a tendency to put their hands in their mouth. They can then spread to the rest of the family when contaminated hands transfer any eggs to food or household surfaces.
What to do: You will need to treat the whole family. Medication is available to kill the worms but take extra care of personal hygiene during this time. Wash bed linen and clothing in hot water and clean your toilet seat often with disinfectant.
Whooping cough or pertussis isn’t as debilitating in adults as it is in babies and young children, but in recent years infection rates have peaked in those 15 years and over.
Symptoms include a runny nose and mild cough. Adults are more likely to get a persistent cough that lasts for a week to a few months.
What to do: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics in the first few weeks to reduce the length of infection. Avoid contact with others as much as possible until at least five days after starting a course of antibiotics.
Also known as parovirus, fifth disease manifests as a fever, runny nose and headache. A rash appears several days later and is often called “slapped cheek” syndromw because it causes red cheeks.
Adults can also develop painful swollen joints – mostly in the hands, feet and knees – with pain lasting up to three weeks on average.
What to do: While fifth disease usually goes away on its own, medication can help manage fever and joint pain. Wash your hands thoroughly and repeatedly to reduce the spread of infection from droplets, dispose of tissues carefully and keep at leats one metre away from a person with the illness.