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Pathognomonic is a sign or symptom that is so characteristic of a

disease that it makes the diagnosis. Pathognomonic (pronounced

patho-no-monic) comes from the Greek “pathognomonikos” meaning
“skilled in judging diseases.” As it is very important to know how to
assess characteristic manifestations of some communicable diseases
at an early stage, here are the pathognomonic signs and symptoms of
some common communicable diseases.

• AIDS — opportunistic and malignant manifestations, T4 below

200/dl. (Opportunistic infection - infection that occurs because of
a weakened immune system. Opportunistic infections are a
particular danger for people with AIDS. The HIV virus itself does
not cause death, but the opportunistic infections that occur
because of its effect on the immune system can.)
• Amoebiasis — bloody mucoid stool.
• Ascariasis — vomiting, passing out of worm.
• Candidiasis — cheeselike discharge.
• Chicken pox — vesiculopopular lesions.
• Cholera — rice-watery stool.
• Dengue/Hemorrhagic Fever — Herman’s sign. It appears on the
upper and lower extremities, purplish or violaceous red with
blanched areas about 1 cm or less in size.
• Diptheria — pseudomembrane, a localized inflammatory process;
Grayish-white, leathery consistency.
• Enterobiasis — nocturnal itchiness.
• Filariasis - Elephantiasis.
• German Measles/Rubella — Forscheimer’s spots, a mild
enanthem of petechial lesions.
• Gonorrhea — thick purulent discharge.
• Herpes Zoster — lesions follow peripheral nerve pathway.
• Leptospirosis — orange eyes.
• Malaria — fever and chills.
• Measles/Rubeola — Koplik’s spots, little spots inside the mouth.
The spots look like a tiny grains of white sand, each surrounded
by a red ring. They are found especially on the inside of the
cheek (the buccal mucosa) opposite the 1st and 2nd upper
• Meningitis — nucchal rigidity.
• Mumps — swollen parotid glands.
• Pertussis — paroxysmal coughs ending with whoop.
• Pneumonia — rusty sputum.
• Polio — flaccid paralysis, weakness or paralysis and reduced
muscle tone without other obvious cause (e.g., trauma).
• Rabies — hydrophobia, a morbid fear of water. Because of this
name, many people think that rabies makes one afraid of water.
In fact, this is not the case (although rabies does cause mental
confusion of other kinds). The name hydrophobia comes from the
fact that animals and people with rabies get spasms in their
throat muscles that are so painful that they cannot eat or drink,
and so will refuse water in spite of being very thirsty.
• Scabies — weeping itch.
• Scarlet Fever — raspberry tongue.
• Syphilis — painless chancre or ulceration.
• Tetanus — locked jaw or trismus.
• Tuberculosis — initially ASYMPTOMATIC.
• Typhoid Fever — 3 cardinal signs: ladderlike fever, rose spots,
spleenomegaly (enlargement of spleen beyond its normal size).