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Chapter 2: Symptoms & signs of common communicable diseases

Guidelines on Prevention of Communicable Diseases in Schools/Kindergartens/Kindergartens-cum-Child Care Centres/Child Care Centres  

Chapter 2
Symptoms and signs of common communicable diseases

For prevention of communicable diseases, staff of schools and centres should know
the common types of communicable diseases and their usual symptoms and signs in order to identify the infected children

offer them assistance and prevent spread of the diseases

Common communicable diseases and their symptoms and signs

Influenza with fever, cough, sneeze, runny nose, sore throat, muscle ache and fatigue

Gastroenteritis with abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, poor appetite, fatigue and fever

Chickenpox with fever, fatigue, vesicles on head, body and limbs

Hand, foot and mouth disease with fever, poor appetite, fatigue, sore throat, painful sores in the mouth, rashes with vesicles on palms and soles

Acute conjunctivitis with redness of eyes, itching eyes, excessive tears and abnormal eye secretion

Some children may have less obvious symptoms and signs

Young children may not be able to express their discomfort. Hence staff have to be vigilant

If a child is found to have increased body temperature,

crying and nagging for no reason,


loss of appetite,

lack of energy,

shortness of breath,

frequent eye rubbing

or frequent scratching, etc, he or she needs early care.

If a child’s body temperature is higher than the reference range quoted in the table below, fever is suspected and medical advice should be sought.

For instance, oral temperature equal to or above 37.5 degrees Celsius, tympanic and rectal temperature equal to or above 38 degrees Celsius, or axillary temperature equal to or above 37.3 degrees Celsius

When measuring body temperature,

the following points should be noted:

1. Consider the accuracy, suitability, convenience and acceptability by parents when choosing an appropriate thermometer

2. Familiarise yourself with the correct use of thermometer

3. Take temperature by the same method at around the same time of the day to minimise variations due to environment and measuring methods

4. Remind children to avoid exercise and food and drinks too cold or too hot within 30 minutes before taking temperature

5. Infrared forehead thermometers are less accurate. If fever is suspected, another type of thermometer should be used to measure the temperature again