The communicable diseases of childhood are a source of significant disruption for the family and a particular challenge to the family physician. Although most of these illnesses are self-limited and without significant sequelae, the socioeconomic impact due to time lost from school (and work), costs of medical visits and remedies, and parental anxiety are enormous. Distressed parents must be treated with sensitivity, patience, and respect for their judgment, as they have often agonized for hours prior to calling the physician. They are usually greatly reassured when given a specific diagnosis and an explanation of the natural history of even the most minor syndrome. It is essential to differentiate serious from benign disorders promptly (e.g., acute epiglottitis versus spasmodic croup), recognize serious complications of common illnesses (e.g., varicella encephalitis), and recognize febrile viral syndromes (e.g., herpangina), thereby avoiding antibiotic misuse. To this end, differential diagnosis is the primary emphasis of this chapter.
KeywordsRespiratory Syncytial Virus Rota Virus Kawasaki Disease Sore Throat Mumps Virus
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