Common Childhood Illnesses

Although the constant development of new vaccines has reduced risks of childhood diseases, there are still several that remain. Some are common childhood illnesses which happen often like strep throat or colds, but some are hit and miss, appearing rarely such as hand-foot-mouth disease. It is important to know the signs and symptoms so proper medical treatment can be received.

Should I keep my Child away from School or Day Care?

If your child has an infectious condition, you may need to keep them at home from day care or school to stop it from spreading. Sometimes people who have been in contact with an infected child may also need to be excluded from school or work, such as friends, siblings or other family members. Your doctor can advise you about this.

For information on arrangements for schools in response to COVID-19, visit:

Some Common Illnesses and the recommended Exclusion Periods

Illness Symptoms Vaccine Available? Should they stay at home?
Conjunctivitis or ‘Pink Eye’

Redness and swelling of the outer layer of the eye and inside the eyelid. It can also cause sore and watery eyes with pus.

No Yes, until discharge from the eye has stopped – unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Strep Throat Bacterial infection of the throat. Symptoms include severe throat pain, trouble swallowing, fever and swollen lymph nodes No Yes, the child is contagious until 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotic is taken.
Common Cold Coughing, low grade fever, sore throat, sneezing and blocked or runny nose. No No, there is no need to exclude a child with the common cold.
Whooping Cough or ‘pertussis Usually begins with a persistent dry cough that progresses to intense bouts of coughing, including a ‘whooping’ noise as the child breathes in. Yes Yes, for 5 days after the first dose of antibiotics
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease A fever and tiny blisters on the cheeks and gums, inside the mouth and on the hands and feet. No Yes, until blisters have dried.
Chicken Pox Mild fever and a rash of red, itchy patches. These turn into fluid-filled blisters before crusting to form scabs. Yes Yes, until all blisters have dried which is usually around 5 days after the rash first appeared.
Diarrhoea Loose watery stools that occur more than 3 times in 1 day. No Yes, until they have not had a loose bowel motion or other symptoms for 24 hours and if there is no cause identified. May require 48 hours until cause identified
Influenza The ‘Flu’ symptoms cause high fever, dry cough, muscle ache and fatigue Yes Yes, until they are well
Measles Fever, cough, feeling tired, sore throat, runny nose, discomfort at light and sore watery eyes. A rash will appear after 3-4 days. The spots are red and slightly raised. Yes Yes, from the onset of symptoms to 4 days after the rash appears
Mumps Mumps cause painful swellings on the side of the face under the ears. Can cause headaches, joint pain and a high temperature. Yes Yes, for 9 days or until the swelling goes down, whichever is sooner.

If you believe your child to have any of the above illnesses, you should always consult your doctor.

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