Silly grown-ups. Pinkeye is for kids, right?


Silly grown-ups. Pinkeye is for kids, right?

Well, not exactly. Even at 20, 30, 40 or even older, adults are not out of the woods as far as childhood viruses are concerned. From rashes to coughing spells and goopy eyes, here are five common illnesses that even adults can get:

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common, very contagious childhood illness. It manifests in red spots and sores in the mouth and red spots that may blister on the hands and feet, as well as other areas of the body. The virus usually strikes children under the age of 5, but it can also infect older children and adults. While people can develop immunity after getting HFMD, several viruses cause the illness. This means that even if a person had HFMD as a child, they can get it again throughout childhood and as an adult. Adults can also carry the virus and transmit it to others without having any symptoms themselves.


Chickenpox was once a very common illness among children, but is now relatively rare, even among kids, due to vaccination. Most children will no longer get chickenpox if they are vaccinated, but it is still possible for unvaccinated kids and adults who never had chickenpox to catch it. The chickenpox virus, varicella zoster, also causes an illness with which adults may be much more familiar: shingles. After getting chickenpox, the virus can remain in the body and cause shingles later in life.

Whooping cough

A whooping cough (or pertussis) vaccine is available and is routinely administered to children beginning at 2 months old. Despite the vaccine, whooping cough cases have been increasing in the United States. Adults with a persistent cough may not realize they could have whooping cough.

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The best way to protect yourself and children around you from the illness is to get the vaccine and booster shots through adulthood. The vaccine is given to babies, children, and teens and is recommended for women in their third trimester of every pregnancy. All adults should also get at least one booster shot.

“It is crucial for adults to get a pertussis booster shot,” said Kelly Endo, director of nursing for Harrison Pointe Healthcare and Rehabilitation. “Adults can avoid unknowingly passing whooping cough on to the children around them by staying up to date on their vaccines.”


Pinkeye is more common among children, but it is possible for people of any age to get it. It is easily transmitted through contact with an infected person or using the same items — such as towels — as an infected person. People who use contact lenses, have seasonal allergies or have eye exposure to irritants are also at an increased risk of getting pinkeye.

Fifth disease

Fifth disease is caused by human parvovirus, which affects red blood cells and causes a rash. The rash shows up on the cheeks and can spread to other areas of the body as well. It is most common in children but can be contracted at any age. People may develop immunity after getting fifth disease, and it is estimated that about half of adults are immune.

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Some viruses strike children at a young age and give them immunity for life. While adults might not expect to face these illnesses, they are still at risk of getting sick. The best way to avoid becoming ill is to get recommended vaccines and wash hands well.


This article was originally published by the Daily Herald. 


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