Illness and infection control

Chicken pox, colds, tummy bugs and head lice are all common features of childhood.

As a childcare practitioner, the chances are you'll see all these and many more during your career. And as a professional childcarer, you must make sure that you take the appropriate actions when a child in your setting is unwell.

As well as understanding how to deal with individual cases of illness, it's important to know how to recognise an outbreak of infectious disease in your setting. An outbreak is defined as being when there are two or more linked cases with similar symptoms (or of a notifiable disease) than would normally be expected. 

Free resources for PACEY members

Some illnesses are notifiable to your registering body and local health team. Find out more about the requirements on you if there is an outbreak in your setting. 

Sample policies and procedures

Having clear policies and procedures about what you will do when a child is ill in your setting is essential. It helps you communicate clearly with parents about their responsibilities to keep their child at home when they are poorly, and for how long they need to be excluded from the setting for. 

Reporting notifiable diseases 

Childcare settings should telephone their local health protection team (HPT) as soon as possible to report any serious or unusual illness. In particular:

  • Escherichia coli (VTEC) (also called E.coli 0157) or E coli VTEC infection
  • food poisoning
  • hepatitis
  • measles, mumps, rubella (rubella is also called German measles)
  • meningitis
  • scarlet fever
  • tuberculosis
  • typhoid
  • whooping cough (also called pertussis)
  • COVID-19

Full list of notifiable diseases

How to find your local Health Protection Team (England)

How to find your local Health Protection Team (Wales). 

In Wales you should also report any serious or unusual illness to CIW through the appropriate notification process.

Resources from government agencies


Download a range of resources and information from the UK Health Security Agency that will help you cope with outbreaks of illness or infection in your setting.

Guidance on Infection Control in Schools and other Childcare Settings - UK Health Security Agency

Health protection in education and childcare settings, UK Health Security Agency. A practical guide for staff on managing cases of infectious diseases in schools and other childcare settings. The guidance provides advice on:

  • preventing the spread of infections
  • which diseases to vaccinate for
  • how long to keep children away from school
  • managing infectious diseases
  • cleaning the environment

Prevention and control - General guidance for staff in education and childcare settings on the prevention and control of infections.

Management of specific infectious diseases - A useful list of common infectious diseases and how to manage them in a childcare setting, including details on whether or not the child should be excluded from the setting.

Action in the event of an outbreak or incident - What to do if you suspect an outbreak or incident.

Exclusion table - when should you exclude ill children from your childcare setting, and for how long. This table is useful when explaining to parents why you can't accept their child into your setting. 

Cleaning the setting effectively - After any outbreak of illness and, indeed to prevent illness and infection, good hygiene and cleanliness is essential. This information gives good general guidance and advice on how to clean to prevent infection, including cleaning up blood and bodily fluids and keeping toys clean.

Action checklist: Diarrhoea and vomiting outbreak: education and childcare settings - Checklist of actions to take during and after an outbreak.

Managing infectious diseases - A really useful list of common infectious diseases and how to manage them in a childcare setting, including details on whether or not the child should be excluded from the setting. 

Raising awareness of measles - a suite of resources, including posters, to help raise awareness of measles in the community. 


Public Health Wales - A range of infection prevention and control guides

Health protection in children and young people settings including education (2023) - These guidelines replace the Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Childcare Settings in Wales (2019).  This guidance has been updated to provide a practical guide for those working in children and young people settings, including education, on managing a range of infections, and minimising disruption. 

Supporting products

Accident, Incident and Medication Folder

This folder contains all of the A4 forms and records you need if there is an accident or incident in your setting. This folder contains refillable loose-leaf forms and is a must for every childcare setting. 

Travel First aid kit

This comprehensive first-aid kit for childminders, designed to ensure the contents are suitable to use with children and when you're out and about.

Training courses

If you prepare food in your childcare setting it’s important to have a good hygiene qualification. Check out our Level 2 food hygiene course.