Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Red, Yellow, Green, Blue

I was talking to my daughter today and she let me know that there is a contagious disease that is affecting a lot of children in her area of Indiana.  It is foot, mouth, and hand disease.  NOT hoof and mouth disease -- that's in cattle.

Symptoms are fever, ulcers in the mouth, rash on hands and feet.  But it is contagious after symptoms are gone for up to two weeks.  So parents think their child is over the disease and let them go to school or swimming, and bingo, another child gets the disease.  It is contagious!

I remember when I was a child what having a contagious disease meant to the family.  That's why I titled this "Red, Yellow, Green, Blue". 

When one member of a family had a contagious disease -- most of which (diseases) don't exist any more -- the whole family was QUARANTINED.  That meant unless it was an emergency, no one in the house was to associate with anyone outside the house.  The Runnemede health department put a poster on your front door telling the world that your family was infected and they should stay away.  I remember standing on my porch and "playing" with Linda, who was down on the sidewalk.  I think we were playing catch or something -- not catch the disease, catch the ball.

So, if I remember this correctly,  a red sign was measles, a yellow sign was chicken-pox, a blue sign I definitely know was mumps, and a green sign was whooping cough.  I might have the measles and chicken-pox colors mixed up because I was only five when I started the measles quarantine at the Drexler household.  In fact, I also started the chicken-pox quarantine at our house.  My brother, Carl, was only six months old when I got it, and we were worried about him if he got the disease -- which he did -- a mild case.

Mumps -- I didn't get the mumps, but my brothers and sister did.  I had to stay home, and the books I had brought home with me could not be brought back to the school room.  I was in 5th grade at the time.

I guess you're wondering how you got rid of the post on the front door.  Your doctor would call the health department and tell them to take the sign down.  I remember after the mumps we waited for almost a week for them to come.  Meanwhile I was missing school, and not at all happy about that.

So, now they know that shingles comes from the chicken-pox virus, which if you've had chicken-pox you are eligible to get this awful, painful disease, which ruined our first trip out West (see yesterday's BLOG).  My dear husband had a bad case of it and we didn't even know it for almost a week, except that he was hurting so bad.  Since it was so hot, we thought it was a bad case of prickly heat.  I didn't get shingles, but quickly got the shot to help prevent me from getting them.

I hope the shot works.  It has so far.


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