KC  Infectious Diseases 

Community Coalition Board

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Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Diphtheria (Prevented by Tdap vaccination)

Diphtheria is a very contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory system, including the lungs. Diphtheria bacteria can be passed from person to person by direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. When people are infected, the bacteria can produce a toxin (poison) in the body that can cause a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. Effects from this toxin can also lead to swelling of the heart muscle and, in some cases, heart failure. In serious cases, the illness can cause coma, paralysis, and even death.

Mumps (Prevented by MMR vaccination)

Mumps is an infectious disease caused by the mumps virus, which is spread in the air by a cough or sneeze from an infected person. A child can also get infected with mumps by coming in contact with a contaminated object, like a toy. The mumps virus causes swollen salivary glands under the ears or jaw, fever, muscle aches, tiredness, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Severe complications for children who get mumps are uncommon, but can include meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), permanent hearing loss, or swelling of the testes, which rarely results in decreased fertility.

Hepatitis A (Prevented by HepA vaccination)

Hepatitis A is an infection in the liver caused by hepatitis A virus. The virus is spread primarily person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. In other words, the virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, poor appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, and sometimes jaundice (when skin and eyes turn yellow). An infected person may have no symptoms, may have mild illness for a week or two, may have severe illness for several months, or may rarely develop liver failure and die from the infection. In the U.S., about 100 people a year die from hepatitis A.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (Prevented by Tdap vaccination)

Pertussis is caused by bacteria spread through direct contact with respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In the beginning, symptoms of pertussis are similar to the common cold, including runny nose, sneezing, and cough. After 1-2 weeks, pertussis can cause spells of violent coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe, drink, or eat. This cough can last for weeks. Pertussis is most serious for babies, who can

get pneumonia, have seizures, become brain damaged, or even die. About half of children under 1 year of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized.

Hepatitis B (Prevented by HepB vaccination)

Hepatitis B causes a flu-like illness with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, rashes, joint pain, and jaundice. Symptoms of acute hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain in joints and stomach, dark urine, grey-colored stools, and jaundice (when skin and eyes turn yellow).

Pneumococcal Disease (Prevented by pneumococcal vaccination)

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria. This bacteria can also cause ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord), and bacteremia (bloodstream infection). In some cases pneumococcal disease can be fatal or result in long-term problems, like brain damage and hearing loss. Pneumococcal disease spreads when people cough or sneeze. 

Human Papillomavirus (Prevented by HPV vaccination) 

Human papillomavirus is a common virus. HPV is most common in people in their teens and early 20s. It is the major cause of cervical cancer in women and genital warts in women and men. HPV can also cause cancers in the back of the throat, most commonly in the oropharynx (base of  the tongue and tonsils). The strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts are spread during sex.

Polio (Prevented by IPV vaccination)

Polio is caused by a virus that lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines. It spreads through contact with the stool of an infected person and through droplets from a sneeze or cough. Symptoms typically include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, or stomach pain. In about 1% of cases, polio can cause paralysis. Among those who are paralyzed, About 2 to 10 children out of 100 die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.

Influenza (Prevented by annual flu vaccination)

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus spreads easily through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can cause mild to severe illness. Typical symptoms include a sudden high fever, chills, a dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle and joint pain. Extreme fatigue can last from several days to weeks. Influenza may lead to hospitalization or even death, even among previously healthy children.

Rubella (German Measles) (Prevented by MMR vaccination)

Rubella is caused by a virus that is spread through coughing and sneezing. In children rubella usually causes a mild illness with fever, swollen glands, and a rash that lasts about 3 days. Rubella rarely causes serious illness or complications in children, but can be very serious to a baby in the womb. If a pregnant woman is infected, the result to the baby can include miscarriage, serious heart defects, mental retardation and loss of hearing and eye sight. 

Measles (Can be prevented by MMR vaccination)

Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases. Measles virus is spread by direct contact with the airborne respiratory droplets of an infected person. Measles is so contagious that just being in the same room after a person who has measles has already left can result in infection. Symptoms usually include a rash, fever, cough, and red, watery eyes. Fever can persist, rash can last for up to a week, and coughing can last about 10 days. Measles can also cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. 

Tetanus (Lockjaw) (Prevented by Tdap vaccination)

Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, and manure.

The bacteria enters the body through a puncture, cut, or sore

on the skin. When people are infected, the bacteria produce a

toxin (poison) that causes muscles to become tight, which is very painful. Tetanus mainly affects the neck and belly. This can lead to “locking” of the jaw so a person cannot open his or her mouth, swallow, or breathe. Complete recovery from tetanus can take months. One to two out of 10 people people who get tetanus die from the disease.

Meningococcal Disease (Prevented by meningococcal vaccination)

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial 

meningitis (infection around the brain and spinal cord) in children. The bacteria

are spread through the exchange of nose and throat droplets, such as when coughing, sneezing or kissing. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. Meningococcal bacteria also cause blood infections. About one of every ten people who get the disease dies from it. Survivors of meningococcal disease may lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become developmentally disabled, or suffer seizures or strokes.

Varicella (Chickenpox) (Prevented by varicella vaccination)

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox is very contagious and spreads very easily from infected people. The virus can spread from either a cough, sneeze. It can also spread from the blisters on the skin, either by touching them or by breathing in these viral particles. Typical symptoms of chickenpox include an itchy rash with blisters, tiredness, headache and fever. Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can lead to severe skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), or even death.