American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Know Your Classic Illnesses

Little girl couchingIf you or someone you love came down with chickenpox, would you know the symptoms? What about measles, mumps, rubella or pertussis (whooping cough)? Stanley E. Grogg, DO, a board-certified osteopathic pediatrician in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says that in the wake of recent outbreaks, it's key for patients and physicians alike to know the signs of these classic illnesses. Dr. Grogg developed this simple infographic to help patients recognize symptoms. If you or a loved one has symptoms, it's strongly urged that the individual be isolated until evaluated by a doctor.

Some key diagnostic signs:

  • Measles: Rash that starts on the face, red eyes and bad cough

  • Mumps: Swelling above the jaw, plus aches, fever and other flu-like symptoms

  • Rubella: Rash on face lasting two to three days

  • Chickenpox: Itchy red bumps that appear in clusters, plus flu-like symptoms

  • Pertussis: Intense coughing with a distinctive ‘whoop’ sound

Why the Resurgence?

These illnesses are making a comeback due to international travel and the growing number of unvaccinated p​eople, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Measles, declared eradicated by the CDC in 2000, hit a 20-year high in 2014. Vaccination is only about 88% effective against mumps, according to the CDC, so even those who have been vaccinated may be vulnerable to the illness.

What Happens if I Get Sick?

People who believe they’ve been exposed to these illnesses should consult their physician, who may be able to help prevent the disease from developing.

If you don't have a physician, consider finding a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well. They also encourage your body's natural tendency toward self-healing.

Until you can see your physician, it's strongly urged you isolate yourself, since these illnesses are highly contagious.

“People who haven’t been vaccinated can protect themselves from measles by getting the MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure. With mumps, a third dose of the vaccine seems to be helpful and is particularly important for males of reproductive age, who can become sterile if the mumps virus settles in the testicles,” Dr. Grogg said. ​​​


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