Whooping Cough – A Highly Contagious Bacterial Disease

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is  that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe.  A deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath.

Causes of Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Infection caused by the Bordetella Pertussis or Bordetella Parapertussis Bacteria. It is a serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants, and even death. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets containing the bacteria move through the air, and the disease is easily spread from person to person. The infection usually lasts 6 weeks. Whooping Cough can affect people of any age. Before vaccines were widely available, the disease was most common in infants and young children. Now that most children are immunized before entering school, the higher percentage of cases is seen among adolescents and adults.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) can cause serious illness in infan

English: Conducting passages of the human resp...
English: Conducting passages of the human respiratory system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ts, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, Pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound.  In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern.

Prevention from Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is usually spread by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the Pertussis Bacteria. Many infants who get Pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. The best way to prevent Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is to get vaccinated. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing. The recommended Whooping Cough (Pertussis) vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Pre-teens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap. Bestthing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster, the Td shot is recommended for adults every 10 years.

Treatment of Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Antibiotics are used to lessen the severity of whooping cough and make the person taking them non contiguous. Antibiotics are most effective if given early in the first phase of the illness. Some strains of whooping cough are resistant to certain antibiotics. Symptoms worsen if this is the case.  In addition to treating the adult or child who has whooping cough, everyone in the household should be treated prophylactic ally with antibiotics.

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