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Preventing Serious Diseases

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Preventing Serious Diseases


Diphtheria is a disease caused by a bacterial toxin or poison that affects the upper airways and throat making it difficult for a child to breath.

The toxin may also affect the heart and nervous system causing heart failure and paralysis.

There is very little chance of a child acquiring natural immunity, as the disease is rare in the UK, but the risk of diphtheria still exists so it is essential to vaccinate.
Tetanus is also a disease caused by a bacterial toxin. It causes the body's muscles to go into spasm or become stiff. The stiffness usually affects the neck or the jaw, giving rise to the term "lock jaw". The disease can be fatal, the highest rates of death being in infants and the elderly.

Spores of the bacteria causing tetanus are present in soil and may enter the body through a cut or scratch.

Tetanus can never be eradicated as the spores are present in the environment. Your child will always remain at risk unless vaccinated.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough or pertussis is a highly infectious bacterial disease that is spread from one person to another by droplets, often to infants by their elder brothers or sisters when they sneeze.

Whooping cough starts as catarrh, turns into an irritating cough that gradually develops into sudden and prolonged bouts of coughing with a characteristic whoop sound. Severe complications such as brain damage and death occur most often in infants under 6 months of age.

The importance of vaccination can clearly be seen by the dramatic rise in the number of cases of the disease in the late 1970s/early 1980s when vaccination fell to an all time low because of concerns over the vaccine. Public confidence in the vaccine has since returned and the number of reports of the disease has now fallen to an all time low.

Polio, or to give it its full name, poliomyelitis, is an acute illness caused by a virus that enters the body through the gut. The virus multiplies in the gut and then invades the nervous system causing, in its most extreme form, paralysis.

Transmission of the disease occurs through contact with faeces or saliva of an infected person. Cases of the disease have fallen dramatically since the introduction of polio immunisation. Although the disease is considered to be eliminated in the UK, there remains a risk, albeit a low risk, of the disease being imported into the UK from other countries where it remains endemic.
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