With so many vaccines on the market today, it is helpful to understand the diseases that can pose threats to people of all ages. The following glossary gives a quick breakdown of all diseases:
Anthrax – Bacillus anthracis is a bacterium that forms spores that then enter the body one of three ways: through a cut or burn, through breathing it in, or by eating it. Depending on the way Anthrax has entered the body, the symptoms can range from blisters to vomiting to bloody diarrhea. Eventually, breathing difficulties occur and can cause death.
Chickenpox (Varicella) – Chickenpox is caused by the Varicella Zoster virus. The disease is spread through coughing and sneezing or from touching a person with chickenpox or shingles blisters. Symptoms include fever, an itchy rash of blisters, headache, and loss of appetite. Usually, chickenpox lasts a week or two and leaves no lasting effects. Adults who have had chickenpox are at risk for shingles after the age of sixty.
Diphtheria – Diphtheria is a disease in which a bacterium (Corynebacterium Diphtheriae) releases poisons into a person’s body. The bacteria live in the mouth, nose, and throat and are spread by coughing or sneezing. Typically, Diphtheria is similar to a cold. The symptoms include a sore throat, fever, and chills. Eventually, a thick coating of bacteria develops on the back of the throat causing breathing difficulties and leading to heart troubles.
Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A is a virus that is found in fecal matter or through sexual contact with an infected person. The virus spreads when something touches the infected fecal matter and then is ingested. Usually, it involves foods that have grown in infected soil or washed in infected water. Symptoms include fever, appetite changes, nausea, stomach cramps, and jaundice. Usually, Hepatitis A lasts for two months, but it can spread out to a full year.
Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B is a virus that is spread through blood or bodily fluids that are passed into an uncovered scratch or cut. Hepatitis B is commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Half of the time, there are no symptoms. Others acquire a high fever, nausea, lack of energy, muscle and joint pain, headache, vomiting, and jaundice. Hepatitis B is linked to certain forms of liver cancer. The disease can be fatal for some.
Hib – This bacterial infection is commonly linked to meningitis, epiglottis (swelling of the throat), and skin diseases. Spread through sneezing and coughing, the disease is most often found in infants and toddlers.
HPV – HPV is a virus that is sexually transmitted. The HPV virus is linked to cervical cancer. There are no symptoms of the disease. It is essential that girls and women who are sexually active get a yearly pap smear.
Influenza – Spread through coughing and sneezing, influenza (the flu) can lead to pneumonia. Symptoms include exhaustion, fever, chills, muscle pain, and headache. Normally, the flu season extends from December to March.
Measles – Measles is an easily spread virus. The symptoms include fever, pink eye, runny nose, cough, and a rash covering much of the body.
Meningococcus (Meningitis) – This bacterial infection attacks the covering of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, stiff neck, muscle and joint pain, headache, and possibly seizures.
Mumps – Symptoms of mumps include swollen glands, fever, headache, and loss of appetite. Usually, children have no problem recovering from this disease. In adults, it can be more severe causing fertility issues.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – Pertussis is a bacterial infection that starts with a runny nose, fever, and cough. The cough develops into a raspy cough that sounds more like a loud bark than an actual cough. Most commonly, pertussis affects children. Infants with pertussis should be hospitalized to assist their breathing.
Pneumococcal – Pneumococcal Disease is another bacterial disease. Pneumonia (lung infection), Meningitis (brain infection), and Bacteremia (blood infection) are the three illnesses related to Pneumococcal.
Polio – 95% of those infected with polio have no symptoms. Polio is a viral disease that is spread through fecal matter. If symptoms do occur they include headache, vomiting, sore throat, meningitis, and in rare cases paralysis.
Rabies – Transferred through the bite of an infected animal, rabies is a deadly disease that attacks the central nervous system. The disease is best avoided by staying away from animals you do not know.
Rotavirus – This intestinal virus is only found in young children. Typically, Rotavirus is passed through sneezing and coughing and spreads quickly through daycare and school settings. Symptoms of Rotavirus include severe diarrhea that can lead to dehydration.
Rubella – Rubella is a viral infection spread through the air. Symptoms include a rash, fever, swollen glands, joint pain, and respiratory difficulties.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) – This viral infection consists of a rash of painful, itchy red blisters. It is similar to chickenpox, but only affects older adults. Shingles can be transmitted to another touching the open blisters. The disease is caused by inactive remnants of the chickenpox virus that remain dormant until the adult years. Commonly, adults older than sixty who had chickenpox as a child are susceptible.
Smallpox – While there has not been an outbreak of Smallpox in decades, there is the threat of the disease being used as a biological weapon. Therefore, laboratory settings keep a stock of the vaccine on hand. Smallpox symptoms include fever, rash, headache, and body aches. The disease is spread through saliva (sneezing or coughing).
Tetanus – Tetanus is another bacterial infection that releases toxins into the bloodstream. Typically, the bacteria enter your body through a cut or puncture wound. The disease can cause severe muscle pain and spasms, fever, elevated blood pressure, and a rapid pulse.
Typhoid Fever – Related to a strain of Salmonella, Typhoid Fever is not common in the United States. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, body aches, and loss of appetite. If not caught in time, the intestines can rupture.
Yellow Fever – Mosquitoes carry Yellow Fever and can transfer it to humans through a bite. If contracted, flu-like symptoms are to be expected. Headache, malaise, fever, and lack of energy are common. The name “Yellow Fever” comes from the yellow color (jaundice) that tints the skin while the disease is active in the system.