February 2013 was bad for chickenpox in the UK.
Early in the month we cared for Harri, who had a week off school with the virus, and today was our last day taking care of her big sister Verity, afflicted by the same virus, also causing a week off school.
Interestingly my arms have since developed the odd spot resembling the virus.
The majority of childhood diseases wreak their considerable damage in Africa, India, and Indonesia.
A few are here also with us in the western world, but only in a small way. A week off school is an inconvenience, but no more than that.
Rickets, polio, tuberculosis, and scarlet fever have now all been eliminated from the list of diseases that are life threatening to UK children. Oh that this could be the case throughout the world, but no.
Lower respiratory tract infections (including pneumonia) account for more than 4 million deaths worldwide each year—the greatest global killer among infectious diseases. Children are the major casualties.
Diarrheal diseases are the second-leading cause of infectious disease deaths worldwide, accounting for more than 2 million deaths annually, and nearly one-fifth of all deaths of children under the age of five. These infections are so widespread in developing countries that parents often fail to recognize when symptoms become critical. Children die simply because their bodies are weakened—often through rapid loss of fluids and undernourishment. The burden of diarrheal diseases is highest in deprived areas where there is poor sanitation, inadequate hygiene, and unsafe drinking water.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the final stage of HIV infection. HIV appears to have jumped to humans early in the 20th century from a type of chimpanzee in West Africa—most likely when humans hunted these animals for meat and came into contact with their infected blood.
For me as a UK grandparent it was just an inconvenience, but for others around the world it is a matter of life or death.