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Some Diseases Commonly Associated with Daycare

Contrary to popular belief, getting sick in daycare does NOT help kids build up their immunities*!

"The typical daycare center...spreads far more infection and communicable disease than the county jail." Science Shams & Bible Bloopers by David Mills,  2000, p 165-166

"This is not surprising: (Day care) exposes babies and toddlers to large numbers of biological strangers, many of whom are not toilet trained and who drool, making day care a breeding ground for infectious disease." Day Careless, by Maggie Gallagher,a Nationl Review, 26-Jan-1998

Even worse, "...An epidemiologist termed day care centers 'the open sewers of the twentieth century'." Day Care Deception, by Brian C. Robertson, 2003, p 87

Finally, "...the risks posed to infant and child health by day care are not going away. 
...antibiotics are a fading asset; virulent new strains of disease resistant to these drugs now find their way into the (childcare) centers."
"The Fractured Dream of Social Parenting" by Alan C. Carlson, Family Policy Review, 2003

There's a horrible litany of "Daycare-Related Illnesses" (DCRIs), as they are called... The War Against the Family  by William D. Gairdner, 1992, p342

Children attending day care are very good at sharing a number of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections with each other. Day care is an ideal environment for the spread of disease among children, because: the children move about and interact with other, their personal hygiene is less than ideal, their ability to control their bodily secretions and excretions is poor, and their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
Pediatric Dental Health website, by Dr. Daniel Ravel, DDS

"Daycare centers are cesspools of germs. They combine the worst of the respiratory infections that school-age children contract with gastrointestinal infections spread by younger kids, especially those not potty trained." Harley A. Rotbart, M. D., a professor of pediatrics and microbiology at the University of Colorado and the author of Germ Proof Your Kids

Since daycares are like petri dishes for germs, it is no wonder that many doctors' new patient information forms now ask, "Does the patient attend daycare"? Not too many years ago, these forms only used to ask about tobacco and alcohol use...

Daycare Disease, Germs, Illness, Sickness or Childcare Disease, Germs, Illness, Sickness

*Early exposure to germs and other organisms does cause more symptoms early in a child's life, but without a counterbalancing health benefit later on, as was previously believed...
"Day Care May Not Shield Kids From Asthma, Allergies" (Study debunks 'hygiene hypothesis' that early exposures boost immune response)
Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter for U.S. News & World Report, 9-Sep 2009

(This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. It only contains diseases referenced elsewhere on this website. For more information on a specific illness, type the name of the disease into the website's SEARCH function.)  Disclaimer:  Medical information is not medical advice.  Only a doctor can provide you with medical advice

Disease: Description:
(Compiled from a variety of sources)
Allergies An allergy is an immune malfunction whereby a person's body is hyposensitized to react immunologically to typically nonimmunogenic substances. It can result in symptoms ranging from a benign runny nose to life-threatening anaphylactic shock and death.
(AOM), Acute Otitis Media Acute Otitis Media - an ear infection that has become alarmingly common among young children in day-cares.
Asthma Asthma is characterized by bronchial inflammation, mucus production and intermittent airway obstruction.
A person with asthma may experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough.
Autism "...autism may be statistically linked to early non-maternal child care."
Is Autism Statistically Linked to Early Non-Maternal Child Care?
2004 by Maxson J. McDowell Ph.D., L.M.S.W.
Bronchitis Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs.  The symptoms can include discolored mucus (white, yellow, or green), bloody (pink, red or rust-streaked) mucus, shortness of breath (worsened by activity),  wheezing, fatigue, low-grade fever, chest discomfort, and malaise.
Bronchiolitis (viral) Bronchiolitis is inflammation of the bronchioles, the smallest air passages of the lungs.
This is most commonly caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).  In a typical case, an infant develops cough, wheeze and shortness of breath over one or two days.  The infant may be breathless for several days. After the acute illness, it is common for the airways to remain sensitive for several weeks, leading to recurrent cough and wheeze. There is a possible link with later asthma.
Chicken Pox Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral disease, so children are especially vulnerable in daycare settings. It is characterized by a fever followed by itchy raw pox or open sores.
Colds (Rhinovirus) Rhinovirus is the most common viral infective agents in humans. The most well-known disease caused by rhinoviruses is the common cold, a mild viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system that lasts between 3 to 10 days. Children in daycare suffer from many more colds than children cared for by parents in their own home.
Conjunctivitis (bacterial) Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids), due to infection.  It causes marked grittiness/irritation and a stringy, opaque, grey or yellowish mucoid discharge that may cause the lids to stick together (mattering), especially after sleeping. It most often affects young children through epidemics that spread rapidly in communal settings such as child care centers.
Conjunctivitis (viral)
a.k.a. "Pink Eye"
Viral conjunctivitis' symptoms include watery discharge, variable itch, and the fact that the infection usually begins with one eye, but may spread easily to the fellow eye.
Coronavirus Including COVID-19, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Coronavirus disease 2019 was responsible for a worldwide pandemic in 2019-2020. Coronaviruses are typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Cryptosporidiosis Crypto is a parasitic protozoan disease that can cause loose, watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and a slight fever.  Spread through the fecal-oral route, it is often spread in daycare centers where many diapers are changed. Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine (bleach) disinfection.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) CMV is the leading cause of congenital infection worldwide; approximately 10 percent of infants infected prenatally have significant complications. Unfortunately, controlling the spread of the infection is very difficult because children who contract the virus often show no symptoms. As a result, children can unwittingly carry the virus home from child care and spread it to their unborn siblings through their mothers.
Dysentery Dysentery is a severe diarrhea illness often associated with blood in the feces.  There are two major types:  1) Shigellosis and 2) amoebic dysentery.
Epiglottitis Epiglottitis is inflammation of the epiglottis. Due to its place in the airway, swelling of this structure can interfere with breathing and constitutes a medical emergency.
Symptoms include fever, difficulty swallowing, drooling and stridor (suffocating noises). The early symptoms are insidious but rapidly progressive, and swelling of the throat may lead to cyanosis (skin turning blue) and asphyxiation.
Fifth Disease Fifth Disease is a contagious viral illness commonly spread among children, especially in close settings such as daycares.  5th Disease is caused by the human parvovirus B19. Symptoms often resemble a mild case of the flu, sometimes followed by bright red rash on the face ("slapped cheek disease"), and possibly later a blotchy rash on the body.
Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, is an illness of fever, diarrhea and/or vomiting caused by an infectious virus, bacterium or parasite.
Sometimes it is referred to simply as 'gastro'. It is often incorrectly referred to as the 'stomach flu' even though it is not related to influenza. Children who attend day care are three times more likely to suffer from acute gastroenteritis than children who do not.
Giardiasis Caused by the microscopic Giardia parasite, Giardiasis is a diarrheal illness passed via the fecal-oral route common in child-care settings. Primary routes are personal contact and contaminated water and food.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease HFMD is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters.  The most common cause is coxsackievirus A16.  Outbreaks in childcare facilities most often occur in the summer and fall months.  It is not the same as 'Foot-and-Mouth' (Hoof-and-Mouth) Disease of cattle, sheep, and swine.
Hemophilus influenza type B meningitis Haemophilus influenzae type B meningitis is an infection of the tissue which covers the brain (meninges) caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. In addition to meningitis, this bacterium can also cause blood stream infections (sepsis), pneumonia, joint and bone infections and other infections.
Hepatitis A Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease affecting the liver, caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). Symptoms may include: jaundice (yellow eyes), dark urine, nausea, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, stomach ache, and vomiting. Hepatitis A is spread by poor hygiene and sanitation, which is inevitable in daycare institutions.
Some daycare bugs are even more hazardous to adults than they are to children, Dr. Rotbart explains. "Kids transmit hepatitis A very efficiently from child to child in daycare centers. The infected child may come home without any symptoms, but parents can be laid up for four to six weeks"
Hepatitis B Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is transmitted in the blood and body fluids of someone who is infected. The infection may become chronic, especially in infants and children, leading to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver.
Herpes simplex The Herpes Simplex Virus causes high fever and painful ulcers in the mouth. The virus is spread person to person through saliva and infected sores. It may later recur as cold sores. Both HSV-1 (which produces most cold sores) and HSV-2 (which produces most genital herpes) are ubiquitous and contagious.
Impetigo The most common type is impetigo contagiosa, which usually starts as a red sore on a child's face, most often around the nose and mouth. The sore ruptures quickly, oozing either fluid or pus that forms a honey-colored crust.
bacteria spreads easily wherever groups of people are in close contact, such as day care.
Influenza (Flu) The Flu is a virus that attacks the respiratory tract. Since Influenza is spread or transmitted when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends flu virus into the air, it can spread like wildfire through the close quarters of a childcare center.  Influenza's effects can be severe or even deadly. Influenza has caused some of the most devastating epidemics /pandemics in recorded world history.
Laryngitis (croup) Croup is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) and the airway just beneath it.  It is often characterized by a loud barking cough. The biggest concern with croup is whether severe breathing difficulty will develop from swelling of the airway. Some infants and children with severe croup may need to be admitted to a hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
Lice (pediculosis) Lice are tiny (1/8 inch or 3 mm), wingless, parasitic insects that feed on blood.
This itchy infestation is easily spread through close personal contact and by sharing personal belongings, which is unavoidable in day-care.  Signs and symptoms of lice include: Intense itching, lice on the scalp, the body, clothing, or other body hair. Lice eggs (nits) on hair shafts resemble tiny pussy willow buds. Nits can be mistaken for dandruff, but unlike dandruff they can't be easily brushed out of hair. Lice leave small, red bumps on the scalp, neck and shoulders.
Measles Measles is primarily a respiratory infection caused by a highly contagious virus. Also called rubeola or morbilli, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. The characteristic red, blotchy rash is just an outward sign of more worrisome changes. Not surprisingly, there is an increased risk of measles infection at day-care centers...
Meningitis, Bacterial Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the central nervous system caused by a number of different strains of bacteria.
The complications of bacterial meningitis can be severe, causing permanent neurological damage, including hearing loss, blindness, loss of speech, learning disabilities, behavior problems and brain damage, even paralysis.
Within a matter of days, the disease can lead to shock and death.
Non-neurologic complications may include kidney and adrenal gland failure.
Meningitis, Viral Probably more common than bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis occurs most often in children. It is characterized by symptoms of headache, fever and general ill feeling.  Sometimes the disease progresses with further symptoms: nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, sore throat, abdominal pain, muscle pain, photophobia, altered consciousness. The viruses that cause viral meningitis may spread in institutional settings such as child-care through contact with stools and possibly through respiratory secretions
Monkeypox Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease. Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that forms blisters and then crusts over
Mono Infectious mononucleosis (aka "glandular fever") is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is present in saliva. Children in daycare centers transmit mono by sharing drinking cups, bottles, and toys contaminated with saliva.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and sometimes stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
Mumps Mumps is a viral infection. which can be easily spread in daycares. Symptoms may include: swollen, painful salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, pain with chewing or swallowing, fever, weakness and fatigue, tenderness and swelling of a testicle (orchitis). Even people who received a Measles Mumps Rubella vaccination (MMR) may become infected with mumps.
Norovirus Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. Outbreaks often occur in crowded, closed places like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, and prisons. The viruses are transmitted by fecally-contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact, and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces.
The name, Norovirus, comes from "Norwalk virus". It is also called "Winter vomiting bug" in Britain.
Otitis media (ear infections) Acute infections of the middle ear typically produce a lot of pain and are usually accompanied by a fever. Other signs and symptoms may include a loss of appetite or a feeling of dizziness or loss of balance. Long-lasting or recurrent infections can damage the eardrum, ear bones and middle ear structures and may cause permanent hearing loss. In young children, even short-term hearing loss can cause delayed speech development.
Ear infections have become alarmingly common among young children in day-cares.
Parvovirus B19 In addition to causing Fifth Disease, Parvovirus B19 has been known to harm and even kill unborn children of infected pregnant women.  Although pregnant mothers of children attending daycare can be infected, pregnant daycare workers have an increased risk of contracting this disease.
Pharyngitis (sore throat) Technically, a sore throat isn't a disease. Most often, it's a symptom of another illness usually a viral infection such as a cold or the flu (influenza). Most sore throat germs are transmitted through direct contact. For example, a sick child touches a toy. Another child in the daycare handles the same toy, picking up the germs, which are eventually transferred from the hands to the mouth or nose.
Pinworms Pinworms are small, white worms that live in the intestines.  They cause intense itching when the female pinworm comes out of the rectum to lay eggs around the anus.  Pinworms are highly contagious!  Bed linens, clothing, carpets, etc., can be contaminated with their eggs. The infected person's hands will, invariably, be contaminated with eggs, providing a route for reinfection and egg dispersal throughout the entire daycare.
Pneumococcal disease Pneumococcus is a bacteria that causes many different kinds of infections in people, ranging from ear infections and sinus infections to pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis.
Pneumonia An inflammation of the lungs usually caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms.  There are more than 50 kinds of pneumonia ranging in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. Although signs and symptoms vary, many cases of pneumonia develop suddenly, with chest pain, fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath.  Complications can include bacteria in the bloodstream, fluid accumulation and infection around the lungs, and lung abscesses.
Rotavirus Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among children. It may often result in hospitalization. The disease is characterized by vomiting and watery diarrhea for 3 - 8 days. Fever and abdominal pain occur frequently. The primary mode of transmission is fecal-oral, which is very common in daycare centers.
Ringworm Ringworm (Dermatophytosis) is a contagious fungal infection. People can get it from direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or pet or indirect contact with an object or surface that an infected person or pet has touched. Ringworm appears as a circle of rash on the skin that's red and inflamed around the edge and healthy looking in the middle. It can spread quickly in daycare centers, where close contact is common.
RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. Children who attend child-care centers or who have siblings who do are at a higher risk of infection. RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs and symptoms similar to those present during an upper respiratory infection. (See Bronchiolitis)
Salmonellosis (Salmonella) Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.  Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with feces.  Food may become contaminated by the hands of an infected child care worker who forgot to wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
Scabies Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by a tiny, eight-legged burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei . It causes intense itching. The sheer discomfort of scabies can produce an almost irresistible urge to scratch. Scabies is contagious through close physical contact prevalent in a childcare setting. It can spread quickly.
Shigellosis Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and painful stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. The diarrhea is often bloody.   In some persons, especially young children, the diarrhea can be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. A severe infection with high fever may also be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.  Shigellosis in day-care centers has become a common problem.
See Dysentery
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) A condition also known as crib death. SIDS strikes suddenly and silently,  Typically, a peacefully sleeping baby simply never wakes up.
Sinusitis An infection of the sinus cavities. Sinusitis can aggravate asthma.
Streptococcus pneumoniae ("strep") Strep throat may lead to serious complications, including: Tonsillitis, Sinusitis, ear infections, and Scarlet fever.  Additionally, strep throat may also lead to rheumatic fever, which can cause heart damage. Strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A streptococci (GAS). Strep may be easily spread in childcare/daycare centers. It is most common during the winter and early spring.
Tapeworm Tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that is transmitted by ingesting infected fleas. Some children will have diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and, sometimes, rectal or anal itching. Fleas in daycare are usually found either on animals or in a sand box.
Tonsillitis Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
Sometimes the swelling can be so severe that the roof of the mouth and tongue meet, blocking air flow and making swallowing extremely difficult. It is spread by close contact such as in daycare centers...
Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium  A life-threatening infection that primarily affects the lungs, has again become an increasing health concern.  TB spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes.  Pulmonary TB can cause permanent lung damage. Tuberculosis can also spread to other parts of the body where it can lead to serious or life-threatening complications. The growing number of children cared for in group settings (daycares, preschools, etc. ) where repeated and prolonged exposure to TB is possible has caused alarm among medical professionals.
Whooping cough (pertussis) Whooping cough affects the chest, airways and lungs. It's caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which spread through droplets of respiratory secretions that are coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who's already infected. Pertussis is highly contagious, and institutional outbreaks of whooping cough, such as those in a daycare centers are common. Symptoms include severe coughing attacks that end with a high-pitched whoop sound as the infected person gasps for air. These may be so severe that the person vomits or turns red or blue from the effort. For young children, complications from whooping cough are severe and may also include: Pneumonia, slowed or stopped breathing, seizures, brain damage, or even death.

Last updated 08/07/2022

Disclaimer:  Medical information is not medical advice.  Only a doctor can provide you with medical advice