Isolation is only bonus of outbreak

Zella had a fantastic day at Titchfield Haven and wonders what other local gems she's overlooked      Picture: Gary Taw

ZELLA COMPTON: Looking afresh at our beautiful spot in the world

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Disease is rife in the Bunker house – and I couldn’t be happier!

We’ve been on lock-down for the past week as we’ve had an outbreak of a highly contagious disease.

Hand, foot and mouth disease sounds like something that Lord Nelson’s matelots would have passed between one another – but it’s a genuine illness. We should know, it’s our second blast in a year.

It’s particularly prevalent in children under the age of 10 and is easily transmitted. When you consider the amount of slimy contact children have with one another, I’m surprised the whole nation isn’t suffering from it.

The symptoms are very similar to chickenpox, tiny little blisters, but only on the hands, feet and the back of the throat.

The unlucky recipient also feels under the weather and the inflamed throat means that speaking is a real effort too.

As 18-month-olds aren’t too good at communicating their feelings through speech, little Jack just emits a raspy bark, not dissimilar to a sea gull with a 60-a-day habit.

The medics wave their white flag as there’s very little they can do to calm things down, apart from insisting that the whole family try to stay away from other people.

But isolating an entire family is hard work. Friends and family turn up at our front door (on which I’ve painted a giant red cross) and I shout through the letter box: ‘Run for your life, it’s too late for us, but you can save your own.’

Trying not to mingle with other people when it’s heaving down with rain and Baltic outside becomes a real issue too, as the only option is to stay indoors.

That’s bearable for an hour. But after that, the slightly clammy, irritated and emotional toddler becomes a tough person to entertain.

Whilst researching ‘highly contagious and pointless diseases’, I stumbled across the chickenpox lollipop.

You’ll be surprised to read that this is an American innovation which has landed a few people in hot water with the Feds.

The principle is simple. Chickenpox is a horrible disease, but you can deal with it better when you are young.

One enterprising mum decided to bottle her child’s disease (or coat the lollipop with the bacteria) and put it up for sale so that parents can expose their own children to the virus.

What lovely parents. ‘You’ve been a good girl, so here’s a delicious lollipop covered in a stranger’s contaminated saliva.’

Sadly, our outbreak meant that we couldn’t make it to a huge family gathering. It would have been very unfair to be amongst the 11 screaming, tortuous, youngsters.

Oh well.