Whooping cough, medically known as Pertussis, is a very contagious bacterial disease of the lower respiratory system. Just like its nickname, the most common symptom is a cough. When children come down with this infection, along with the cough, they produce the whooping sound. This disease can affect individuals of any age, but it is in children and infants that this disease can become dangerous and can even lead to death.
Pertussis is transmitted by the respiratory route through inhalation of the bacterium in the air into our airway. The bacteria then attaches to the ciliary cells of the trachea, and causes infection. Whooping cough usually starts off with similar symptoms as the common cold. These symptoms include: congestion, cough, and fever. After about two weeks, the prolonged episodes of coughing occur. Due to accumulation of mucus in the lungs, these severe attacks are desperate attempts at coughing up the accumulations. In small children, violent coughing can result in broken blood vessels of the eyes, facial bruising, and even broken ribs. In infants, these attacks are so severe that it’s hard for them to eat, drink, and breath.
A great percentage of reported cases for Pertussis decreased since the development of the pertussis vaccines. Unfortunately, there has been a 24% increase of cases that have been reported to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) since the beginning of 2014. Here in California, as of July 21, 2014, 6,170 cases were reported to the California Department of Public Health. This is more than a threefold increase compared to the same period in 2013.
The best way to prevent Pertussis is by getting vaccinated. Children and adult vaccines are available separately. Four doses of DTaP are recommended for all children under the age of one, and Tdap is available for children 10 years and older on a 10 year booster basis. These vaccines usually come as a combination vaccine for the prevention of Pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria all together. While there is a current trend for vaccine free campaigns, the fact is plain and simple, in order to protect young children from acquiring Pertussis, vaccination for all adults and minors is very important.The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.