When Is an Illness Contagious?

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Parents

How do you know when a child's illness is in the contagious stage? I run a day care and would like to be able to take the right precautions at the right time when kids get sick.
– Yvette

It's important to keep in mind that most viral illnesses are contagious before a child shows any symptoms of being sick. In other words, a child who is infected is often spreading the virus even before feeling sick — which makes it virtually impossible to stop the spread of infections.

The best way to try to prevent the spread of germs is to encourage frequent hand washing, even when kids feel well. Kids should wash their hands after playing outside, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after going to the bathroom.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: October 2009

Have a question? Email us.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO


Related Articles

Why Is Hand Washing So Important? Did you know that proper hand washing is the best way to keep from getting sick? Here's how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.
Diarrhea Most kids battle diarrhea from time to time, so it's important?to know what to do to relieve and even prevent it.
What Are Germs? Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease. With a little prevention, you can keep harmful germs out of your family's way.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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