Vaccine Preventable Diseases
It’s difficult for many of us to imagine the devastating diseases vaccines protect us from contracting. Although we rarely see some of the diseases in the United States, recent outbreaks of pertussis, measles, and mumps remind us of the importance of immunizing children, teens and adults. Below you will find information about each vaccine-preventable disease, symptoms, how the disease is spread, and the vaccine that protects you.
For additional information about these diseases, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccines & Preventable Diseases website. Also, some vaccine-preventable diseases are reportable in Idaho. For Idaho's disease trends please visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Idaho Reportable Disease Summary webpage.
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What is diphtheria?
Diphtheria is a serious disease caused by a toxin (poison) made by bacteria. It causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. It can be deadly. The DTaP vaccine protects against diphtheria.
What are the symptoms of diphtheria?
Diphtheria starts with sore throat, mild fever (101 degrees or less), and chills. Next, the diphtheria toxin makes a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat. It may be blue or grayish green. The coating makes it hard to breathe or swallow.
How does diphtheria spread?
Diphtheria spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can spread the disease for up to 2 weeks after infection.
DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Not everyone has symptoms. If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after becoming infected and can include:
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Grey-colored stools
• Dark urine
• Joint pain
Symptoms are more likely to occur in adults than in children. They usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months.
How is Hepatitis A spread?
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.
Hepatitis A can be spread when:
• An infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food
• A caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
• Someone engages in certain sexual activities, such as oral-anal contact with an infected person
Hepatitis A also can be spread through contaminated food or water. This most often occurs in countries where Hepatitis A is common, especially if personal hygiene or sanitary conditions are poor. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking.
Hepatitis A vaccine
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis B can be either “acute” or “chronic”.
Acute Hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can—but does not always—lead to chronic infection.
Chronic Hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the Hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Symptoms of acute Hepatitis B, if they appear, can include:
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Dark urine
• Clay-colored bowel movements
• Joint pain
• Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes)
How is Hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B is usually spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact with an infected person or sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth.
Hepatitis B vaccine
What is Hib disease?
Hib disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b. Babies and children younger than 5 years old are most at risk for Hib disease. It can cause lifelong disability and be deadly. The Hib vaccine prevents Hib disease.
What are the symptoms of Hib disease?
Hib disease causes different symptoms depending on which part of the body it affects.
The most common type of Hib disease is meningitis. This is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. It causes the following:
• Fever and headache
• Stiff neck
• Pain when looking into bright lights
In babies, meningitis may cause poor eating and drinking, low alertness, and vomiting.
Hib disease can also cause the following:
• Throat swelling that makes it hard to breathe
• Joint infection
• Skin infection
• Pneumonia (lung infection)
• Bone infection
How does Hib disease spread?
Hib spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Usually, the Hib bacteria stay in a person’s nose and throat and do not cause illness. But if the bacteria spread into the lungs or blood, the person will get very sick.
Spread of Hib is common among family members and in childcare centers.
What is HPV infection?
Human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. HPV can cause serious health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. There is no certain way to tell who will develop health problems from HPV and who will not.
Who is at risk for HPV?
Anyone who is having (or has ever had) sex can get HPV. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women get it at some point in their lives. This is true even for people who only have sex with one person in their lifetime.
How is HPV spread?
There are over 100 types of human papillomaviruses, and about 40 of them are spread through sexual contact. A person can still have HPV, even if years have passed since he or she has had sexual contact with an infected person. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV.
A pregnant woman with genital HPV can pass the HPV on to her baby during delivery.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
Most of the time there are no symptoms and most HPV infections go away on their own. Some HPV types (the high risk ones) will cause an ongoing (chronic) infection in the cervix of a female. This causes abnormal Pap smears. Chronic HPV infection can lead to cancer, especially cervical cancer. HPV can cause genital warts, which can be uncomfortable and irritating and can reoccur.
Cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
Other cancers caused by HPV might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat.
What is influenza?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
What are the symptoms of flu?
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (very tired)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How is the flu spread?
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
TIV, QIV, LAIV
What is measles?
Measles is an infectious viral disease that occurs most often in the late winter and spring.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles begins with a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash starts on the face and upper neck, spreads down the back and trunk, then extends to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about 5 days, the rash fades the same order in which it appeared.
How is measles spread?
Measles is highly contagious. Infected people are usually contagious from about 4 days before their rash starts to 4 days afterwards. The measles virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of infected people. When they sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air and the droplets remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours.
MMR and MMRV
What is meningococcal infection?
A common outcome of meningococcal infection is meningitis. When caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria it is known as meningococcal meningitis. When someone has meningococcal meningitis, the protective membranes covering their brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges, become infected and swell.
What are the symptoms of meningococcal infection?
The symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
• Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
• Altered mental status (confusion)
The symptoms of meningococcal meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure. In newborns and infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. In young children, doctors may also look at the child’s reflexes, which can also be a sign of meningitis.
How is meningococcal infection spread?
Neisseria meningitidis bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., living in close quarters, sharing water bottles, kissing).
What is mumps?
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. There is no cure for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems.
What are the symptoms of mumps?
Mumps usually causes the following:
• Muscle aches
• Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
• Swollen glands under the ears or jaw
• These symptoms last 7 to 10 days.
Some people with mumps have no symptoms. Others feel sick but do not have swollen glands.
How does mumps spread?
Mumps spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Mumps can spread before swollen glands appear and for 5 days afterward. Children with mumps should stay home from school or childcare settings for at least 5 days to avoid spreading the disease to others.
MMR and MMRV
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough—or pertussis—is a very serious respiratory (in the lungs and breathing tubes) infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. It causes violent coughing you can’t stop. Whooping cough is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly.
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
Whooping cough starts with the following symptoms:
• Runny or stuffed-up nose
• Mild cough
• A pause in breathing in infants (apnea)
• After 1 to 2 weeks, coughing, which can be severe, starts.
Children and babies can cough very hard, over and over. When children gasp for breath after a coughing fit, they make a "whooping" sound. This sound is where the name “whooping cough” comes from. Babies may not cough or make this sound. Coughing fits make it hard to breathe, eat, drink, or sleep. Coughing fits happen more at night. Babies and young children may turn blue while coughing from lack of oxygen and vomit after coughing fits. Coughing fits can last for 10 weeks and sometimes recur with the next respiratory illness.
How serious is whooping cough?
The disease is most dangerous for babies and young children. From 2004 through 2011, there were 159 deaths from whooping cough reported in the U.S. Almost all the deaths–141 of the 159–were babies younger than 3 months of age.
About half of babies younger than 1 year who get the disease need care in the hospital. About 1 out of 4 hospitalized babies and children with whooping cough will get pneumonia (a serious lung infection). Whooping cough can also cause seizures (jerking or staring) and brain damage.
How does whooping cough spread?
Whooping cough spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. A person can spread the disease while he or she has cold-like symptoms and for at least 2 weeks after coughing starts.
Many babies and young children get whooping cough from adults or older brothers or sisters who don’t know they have the disease. Pregnant women with whooping cough can give it to their newborn babies. Because whooping cough is so harmful in babies, everyone around them needs to be vaccinated—to make a circle of protection.
What is polio?
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system.
What are the symptoms of polio?
Fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. Approximately 95% of persons infected with polio will have no symptoms. About 4-8% of infected persons have minor symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the limbs, which often resolve completely. Of those paralyzed by polio, 5-10% die when the paralysis strikes the respiratory muscles. The death rate increases with increasing age.
How is polio spread?
Polio is spread by person-to-person contact and only affects humans.
IPV and OPV (OPV is no longer used in the U.S.)
What is rubella?
Rubella, sometimes called “German measles,” is a disease caused by a virus. The infection is usually mild with fever and rash. But, if a pregnant woman gets infected, the virus can cause serious birth defects.
What are the symptoms of rubella?
Rubella usually causes the following symptoms in children:
• Rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
• Low fever (less than 101 degrees)
• These symptoms last 2 or 3 days.
Older children and adults may also have swollen glands and symptoms like a cold before the rash appears. Aching joints occur in many cases, especially among young women. About half of the people who get rubella do not have symptoms.
Rubella is most dangerous for a pregnant woman’s fetus. It can cause miscarriage or birth defects like deafness, intellectual disability, and heart defects. As many as 85 out of 100 babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first 3 months of her pregnancy will have a birth defect.
How does rubella spread?
Rubella spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease is most contagious when the person has a rash. But it can spread up to 7 days before the rash appears. People without symptoms can still spread rubella.
MMR and MMRV
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a toxin (poison) made by bacteria. It causes painful muscle stiffness and can be deadly.
What are the symptoms of tetanus?
Tetanus in children starts with headache, jaw cramping, and muscle spasms (sudden, involuntary muscle tightening).
It also causes the following:
• Painful muscle stiffness all over the body
• Trouble swallowing
• Seizures (jerking or staring)
• Fever and sweating
• High blood pressure and fast heart rate
• Tetanus is often called “lockjaw” because the jaw muscles tighten, and the person cannot open his mouth.
How serious is tetanus?
Tetanus is very dangerous. It can cause breathing problems and paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). Muscle spasms can be strong enough to break a child’s spine or other bones.
It can take months to recover fully from tetanus. A child might need weeks of hospital care. As many as 1 out of 5 people who get tetanus dies.
How is tetanus spread?
The bacteria that cause tetanus are found in soil. They get into the body through a puncture of the skin. A person can also be infected after a burn or an animal bite. Tetanus does not spread from one person to another.
DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes a rash and fever and can be serious, especially for babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. The chickenpox vaccine protects against this disease.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
Chickenpox causes a rash of itchy blisters. It starts on the face, chest, back, and stomach. A person can have 250 to 500 blisters. The rash can spread over the whole body, including inside the mouth, eyelids or genital area. Chickenpox also causes fever, headache, and tiredness. People are usually sick for 5 to 10 days. You can still get chickenpox if you have been vaccinated against the disease. But it is usually milder with less than 50 blisters and little or no fever.
How serious is chickenpox?
Most children with chickenpox completely recover in a week. But, the itching can be very uncomfortable. Children with chickenpox miss several days of school or childcare.
The disease can also cause serious problems, including:
• Bacterial infection of the skin and tissues under the skin (including Group A streptococcal infections)
• Dehydration (loss of body fluids) from vomiting or diarrhea
• Pneumonia (lung infection)
• Encephalitis (brain swelling)
Some people may need hospital care. Chickenpox can even be deadly.
How does chickenpox spread?
Chickenpox spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread by touching fluid from blisters. Children with chickenpox usually must miss school or childcare for several days to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Varicella vaccine and MMRV