Cold or Flu?

Your child is sent home from school with a sore throat, cough, and high fever — could it be the flu that's been going around? Or just a common cold? Although the flu (or influenza) usually causes symptoms that make someone feel worse than symptoms associated with a common cold, it's not always easy to tell the difference between the two.

Symptoms Guide

The answers to these questions can help determine whether a child is fighting the flu or combating a cold:

Flu vs. Colds: A Guide to Symptoms
Questions Flu Cold
Was the onset of illness ... sudden? slow?
Does your child have a ... high fever? no (or mild) fever?
Is your child's exhaustion level ... severe? mild?
Is your child's head ... achy? headache-free?
Is your child's appetite ... decreased? normal?
Are your child's muscles ... achy? fine?
Does your child have ... chills? no chills?  

If most of your answers fell into the first category, chances are that your child has the flu. If your answers were usually in the second category, it's most likely a cold. But don't be too quick to brush off your child's illness as just another cold. The important thing to remember is that flu symptoms can vary from child to child (and they can change as the illness progresses), so if you suspect the flu, call the doctor. Even doctors often need a test to tell them for sure if a person has the flu or not since the symptoms can be so similar!

Some bacterial diseases, like strep throat or pneumonia, also can look like the flu or a cold. It's important to get medical attention immediately if your child seems to be getting worse, is having any trouble breathing, has a high fever, has a bad headache, has a sore throat, or seems confused. While even healthy kids can have complications of the flu, kids with certain medical conditions are at more of a risk. If you think your child might have the flu, contact your doctor.


Some kids with chronic medical conditions may become sicker with the flu and need to be hospitalized, and flu in an infant also can be dangerous. For severely ill kids or those with other special circumstances, doctors may prescribe an antiviral medicine that can ease flu symptoms, but only if it's given within 48 hours of the onset of the flu. Most of the time, you can care for your child by offering plenty of fluids, rest, and extra comfort. And if the doctor says it's not the flu? Ask whether your child should get a flu shot.

Source: kidshealth


Yersiniosis is a relatively uncommon infection contracted through the consumption of undercooked meat products (especially pork), unpasteurized milk, or contaminated water. Usually, someone with an infection caused by Yersinia bacteria recovers within a few days without medical treatment (in some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics).

About Yersiniosis

Of the three main types of yersiniosis that affect people, Yersinia enterocolitica (bacteria that thrive in cooler temperatures) are responsible for most infections in the United States. The infection seems to be more common in cooler climates. The bacteria can infect the digestive tracts of humans, cats, dogs, pigs, cattle, and goats. People can contract it by eating or handling contaminated foods (such as raw or undercooked meat) or by drinking untreated water or unpasteurized milk that contain the bacteria. An infant can be infected if a parent or caretaker handles contaminated food without cleaning up adequately before handling the baby's toys, bottles, or pacifiers.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of yersiniosis appear 4-7 days after exposure and can last up to 3 weeks. They include fever, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Sometimes, older kids also get pain in the lower right side of the abdomen, which can mimic appendicitis. Some people also have a sore throat along with other symptoms. If your child has these symptoms, call your doctor. For infants, it's particularly important to call the doctor as soon as symptoms appear to prevent the infection from leading to other health problems.

In rare cases, the infection can cause a skin rash called erythema nodosum, or joint pain that appears a month after the initial symptoms. The rash usually occurs on the legs and trunk. The joint pain is usually in the larger joints and is thought to be due to an immune system response. These symptoms typically go away with time but can last several months. The diagnosis of Yersinia can be confirmed with a stool culture. If the Yersinia infection leads to an infection of the blood, known as bacteremia, it can be confirmed with a blood culture.


Diarrhea caused by yersiniosis generally goes away on its own, though in some cases antibiotics are prescribed. In infants, however — particularly those who are 3 months old or younger — it can develop into bacteremia. Infants who contract yersiniosis are usually treated in a hospital. Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, your doctor may suggest modifying your child's diet for 1 or 2 days and encouraging your child to drink more fluids (which may include drinks with electrolytes to replace body fluids quickly). If your child has frequent bouts of diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration, including:
  • severe thirst
  • dry mouth or tongue
  • sunken eyes
  • dry skin
  • not urinating as often
  • in infants, a dry diaper for several hours
  • no tears when crying
  • looking lethargic


To reduce the risk of yersiniosis, take these precautions:
  • Don't serve or eat raw or undercooked meat.
  • Drink and serve only pasteurized milk and milk products.
  • Wash hands with soap and water particularly before eating and preparing food; before touching infants or their toys, bottles, or pacifiers; and after contact with animals or handling raw meat.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meat and other foods.
  • Clean all cutting boards, countertops, and utensils with soap and hot water after preparing raw meat.
  • Always cook meat thoroughly before you eat it, especially pork products.
  • Dispose of animal feces and sanitize anything they have touched.
  • Avoid drinking directly from natural water sources such as ponds and mountain streams, particularly if the water is near farmland where cattle, pigs, or goats are raised.
  • As you care for a family member who has diarrhea, remember to wash your hands thoroughly before touching other people and before handling food.
  • If your pet dog or cat has diarrhea, wash your hands frequently as you care for it, and check with your veterinarian about treatment and/or contagiousness.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if your child:
  • has diarrhea streaked with blood
  • is vomiting
  • has abdominal pain
  • has a fever
With some rest, kids with yersiniosis usually make a full recovery quickly.

Source: kidshealth 

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a serious and sometimes life-threatening infection that mostly affects people in developing countries, where clean water and other sanitation measures are hard to come by. The disease usually causes symptoms that include a high fever, a stomachache, and achiness. It can be cured with antibiotics.

If you live in the U.S. the chances of someone in your family getting typhoid fever are slim. But if you're planning to travel to a foreign country, especially one in the tropics, it's a good idea to know about typhoid fever. Before you travel, get vaccinated against the disease and learn about safety precautions regarding food and water.

About Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is caused by bacteria called Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi), which are related to the bacteria salmonella that cause food poisoning. S. Typhi typically live in humans and are shed through a person's feces (poop) or urine (pee). Once the bacteria get into the body, they quickly multiply and spread into the bloodstream. The body responds with a high fever and other symptoms, usually a week or two after exposure to the bacteria (but sometimes later). Symptoms can be mild to severe and usually disappear 2 to 5 days after antibiotic treatment begins.

Without treatment, typhoid fever may last a month or more and become very serious, even life-threatening. After recovering from typhoid fever, some people still can become carriers of the bacteria. This means that they'll have no symptoms, but do have the bacteria in their bodies and can pass it on to other people.

How People Get It

People usually get typhoid fever by drinking beverages or eating food that has been handled by someone who has typhoid fever or is a carrier of the illness. Those infected also can pass the disease onto others directly (for example, by touching them with unwashed hands). People also get the illness by drinking water that is contaminated by sewage that contains the S. Typhi bacteria. For these reasons, the disease is common in areas with poor sanitation and inadequate water treatment. It is also common in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of typhoid fever may range from mild to severe, depending on factors such as the age, health, and vaccination history of the infected person and the geographic location where the infection originated. Typhoid fever can come on suddenly or very gradually over a few weeks. Early signs and symptoms of the illness include:
  • fever that can reach as high as 104°F (40°C)
  • feeling achy, tired, or weak
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • stomach pain and loss of appetite
  • sore throat
When typhoid fever isn't untreated, symptoms become worse week by week. Besides a fever, someone may lose weight; develop a swollen or bloated belly; or develop or a red, spotted rash on the lower chest or upper belly. The rash usually clears up in 2 to 5 days. In most cases, the symptoms of typhoid fever start to go away in the third and fourth weeks, as long as the disease doesn't cause any other health problems. After the illness has appeared to go away, it can come back.


Serious health problems (complications) as a result of typhoid fever are rare in children. When kids do develop complications, they tend to be gastrointestinal problems, specifically an intestinal perforation (a hole in the intestines). This is life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Less common complications include problems with the lungs or heart, infections in the bones or joints, urinary tract infections, or mental health problems.

When to Call a Doctor

Call a doctor if you think your child has been exposed to typhoid fever or develops any symptoms of typhoid fever, even mild ones, especially after visiting an area where the infection is common. To make a diagnosis, the doctor will evaluate the symptoms and ask you about your child's medical history and recent travels. The doctor probably will take a sample of stool (poop), urine (pee), or blood to test it for the disease.


Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics that kill S. Typhi bacteria. If the doctor prescribes antibiotics, be sure your child completes the course of treatment. Do not end the treatment early even if your child begins to feel better. Most kids start feeling better within 2 to 3 days of beginning treatment. In addition to giving antibiotics, offer your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Kids who are severely dehydrated from a loss of fluids due to diarrhea might be given IV (intravenous) fluids in a hospital or other medical care facility. Acetaminophen can help reduce fever and make your child feel more comfortable. Call a doctor immediately if your child's symptoms persist, if symptoms go away and then reappear, or if your child develops any new symptoms.

Source: kidshealth


Tapeworms are flat worms that live in a person's digestive tract. Though upsetting to think about, they usually don't cause any serious problems. Tapeworm infections aren't common in the United States and, when they do happen, they're usually easy to treat.

Tapeworm Basics

Tapeworms are parasites. As you probably remember from biology class, parasites are organisms that live in, or on, other organisms (called "hosts"). Parasites take their nutrients from the host, sometimes depriving the host of nutrition.

Tapeworms get into the body when someone eats or drinks something that's infected with a worm or its eggs. Once inside the body, the tapeworm head attaches to the inner wall of the intestines. The tapeworm feeds off the food that the host is digesting. It uses this nutrition to grow. Tapeworms are made up of segments, and they get longer by growing new segments. Each segment can reproduce by making thousands of eggs. Since tapeworms can have more than a thousand segments, that's a lot of opportunity to spread. They can grow to more than 33 feet (10 meters) and live as long as 25 years.

New segments grow at the head of the tapeworm, pushing older segments to the end of the line, where they break off. These segments, along with the eggs they contain, pass out of the digestive tract in the host's feces (poop). If the infected feces aren't disposed of in a sanitary way — like down a flush toilet — they can get into the soil or water. Tapeworm segments can live for months in the environment, waiting for a host to come along. Animals like cows or pigs that eat grass or nose around in the soil can pick up tapeworm segments or eggs. When the tapeworm reaches the animal's intestine, the attach-and-grow cycle begins again.


Most of the time, people get tapeworm infections from eating food that's contaminated and not prepared properly:
  • Tapeworms can spread when someone eats or drinks food or water that's contaminated with infected feces. This is one reason why tapeworm infections are rare in places that have good sanitation, like the United States. Flush toilets, sewer systems, and water treatment plants help keep feces out of the water and food supply.
  • People can pass tapeworm eggs on to others when they don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. Tapeworm eggs in feces can easily spread into food or onto surfaces like doorknobs. If you ever need another reason to get your kids to wash their hands, this might do it!
  • Kids can get tapeworms from eating meat or fish that hasn't been cooked enough to kill the tapeworm or its eggs.


Most kids who have a tapeworm infection don't feel anything. It can take months or years to notice any symptoms. Some of the things a child might complain of are:
  • mild nausea
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
Kids with a tapeworm infection may feel a piece of the worm coming out through the anus. If your child has an infection, you may see a tapeworm segment in his or her feces. There are different types of tapeworms. One (fish tapeworm) can cause anemia because it absorbs vitamin B12, which helps make red blood cells. This can lead kids to feel tired, short of breath, or have other symptoms of anemia.

The eggs of another type of tapeworm (pork tapeworm) can hatch into larvae in the intestine. These larvae go through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. From there they can travel to different parts of the body (such as muscles, eyes, or the brain), where they form cysts. This disease is known as cysticercosis. It is rare in the United States, but common in many developing countries. With cysticercosis, kids might develop:
  • lumps under the skin
  • seizures, if the cysts are in the brain
  • vision problems, if the cysts are in the eyes
  • an abnormal heartbeat, if cysts are in the heart
  • weakness or trouble walking, if cysts are in the spine
Eating contaminated pork can lead to a tapeworm infection in the intestines, but it won't turn into cysticercosis. To develop cysticercosis, someone would have to swallow the eggs of the pork tapeworm, and these eggs aren't found in the meat itself. They are found in feces and around the anus.
Cysticercosis occurs as a result of eating food that has been contaminated with feces. It can be any kind of food — all it takes is for that food to come into contact with feces.

When to Call a Doctor

Call a doctor if you see worms in your child's feces or if he or she has abdominal pain or other symptoms that might suggest a tapeworm infection. You'll also want to call a doctor if your child shows signs of infection after traveling to a part of the world that doesn't have good sanitation. Call a doctor right away if your child has masses or lumps under the skin and develops a fever, headache, or any of the other symptoms of cysticercosis. If your child has seizures or trouble moving, walking, or talking, go to the emergency room right away.

Source: kidshealth