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Stomach Flu: Contagious continued...

How it spreads. Your child can get gastroenteritis through close contact with someone who has it or by eating food that's been prepared or touched by someone who has it.

Prevention. Try to keep your child away from people who have the stomach flu. Teach him to wash his hands frequently, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom. Teach your child to avoid sharing foods and utensils with other kids. Teach him not to put his fingers in his mouth.

Treatment. There is no specific treatment for stomach flu. Give your child popsicles and extra fluids to make sure he stays well hydrated. He should also rest. Avoid spicy foods and fried foods. Give small amounts of bland foods like gelatin, toast, crackers, rice, or bananas at first. You may even consider adding a probiotic to increase the healthy and normal bacteria in his gut. Then go back to his regular diet, but feed him small amounts frequently. If you think your child is not drinking enough or voiding enough (a child 1 or older needs to void at least once every four hours) call your doctor. If your little one is less than 1 and has vomiting or diarrhea, consult your doctor.

Fifth Disease ("Slapped Cheek"): Contagious

This viral illness usually affects school-age children, most commonly in winter and spring. It usually begins with low-grade fever, headache, and stuffy or runny nose. But the primary symptom is a bright red rash that starts on the cheeks -- giving the appearance of slapped cheeks -- and can progress to the trunk, arms, and legs.

How it spreads. Parvovirus B19, which causes fifth disease, is spread through saliva, sputum, and nasal mucus.

Prevention. Fifth disease is most contagious in the "stuffy nose" phase, before the rash begins, so it is difficult to prevent. Your child's best defense is to avoid contact with children who are coughing and sneezing. Frequent hand washing -- especially before touching their eyes, nose, or mouth – also helps.

Treatment. Fifth disease is usually mild and requires no treatment other than rest. If needed, acetaminophen or anti-itch medication may help relieve symptoms. However, parvovirus B19 can cause serious complications in people with a weakened immune system or chronic anemia, or in women who are pregnant. Then it's important to see a doctor.

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