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Posts Tagged ‘Pertussis’

Whooping Cough Could be The Worst Epidemic in 50 Years

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Department of Health Services (DSHS) projections show the number of people who will get sick with Pertussis (Whooping Cough) this year could reach its highest level in more than 50 years. A bacterial infection that often starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough, Pertussis produces severe coughing that can last for several weeks. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting or a “whooping” sound, which is why the disease is also called “whooping cough.”

What may seem like the start of a common cold could be the serious symptoms of whooping cough. At the start, typical symptoms of pertussis include runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and possibly mild cough or fever. But, after 1-2 weeks of these symptoms, severe coughing can begin and continue for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, which tends to produce a “whooping” sound between coughs, although this sound can be absent or minimal in infants.

Infectious Disease Medical Officer for the Texas Department of Health Services, Dr. Lisa Cornelius, said the situation is alarming. “Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies. So people should take it seriously.”

The reported incidence of infant pertussis in the United States has increased almost 17 times since 1979. More than 2,000 pertussis cases have been reported in the United States so far this year. Health officials predict the total number of cases will eventually surpass the previous high of 3,358 cases, reported in 2009.

To better protect babies, pregnant women should consider being vaccinated during every pregnancy—preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This helps protect the baby before he or she can start the vaccination series at 2 months old and helps keep the mother from getting sick and infecting the baby. Fathers, siblings, extended family members, medical providers and others who will be around newborns should also be vaccinated. One of the reasons the incidences of Whooping Cough have increased is because people are opting to keep their kids from getting the Tdap booster. This could be a costly mistake.

Many babies get whooping cough from adults or older brothers or sisters who don’t even know they have been infected with the disease. While symptoms are usually milder in teens and adults, pertussis can be life threatening for babies because of the risk of apnea, an interruption in breathing. Pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. People with pertussis are most contagious while they have cold-like symptoms and during the first two weeks after they start coughing.

Anyone with an unexplained, prolonged cough or who has had close contact with a person with pertussis should contact their health care provider. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the contagious period. Doctors who suspect a pertussis infection are required to report it to their local health department within one working day. Patients who have pertussis should not go back to work or school until they’ve completed five days of antibiotic treatment.

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Be Safe: The Threat of Whooping Cough

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Nurse preparing a vaccine

The best way to prevent Whooping Cough is to be vaccinated.

A disease that reached near extinction in the industrialized world, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is making a comeback in schools and other facilities in the United States. Highly infectious, Whooping Cough is resistant to antibiotics and can quickly spread through schools or office facilities that contain lots of individuals working or living in cramped quarters.

Some school districts are mandating proof of Whooping Cough vaccination before students can be admitted to attend classes. In California, a state law mandates that students going into 7th through 9th grade receive booster vaccinations before the fall semester. To explain the requirement, officials point to the 8,000 California-based cases and 10 infant deaths that were reported in 2010.

Dangers associated with Whooping Cough:

  • Most Whooping Cough deaths in the United States occur in infants. Severe Pneumonia, dehydration, and ear infections can all lead to mortality. Antibiotics can shorten the duration of the virus, but by no means cure the disease.
  • For many older children, vaccinations are mandatory, as they prevent the infection from spreading to young siblings and friends.
  • Violent coughing in kids and adults can result in cracked ribs or abdominal hernias.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough mirror those of a severe cold, making diagnosis difficult. Early symptoms include coughing, runny nose and a mild fever. After one or two weeks, symptoms usually worsen to include high fever, extreme fatigue and the telltale “whoop” noise cough.

To combat the further spread of Whooping Cough, many government agencies are aggressively pushing for vaccination. The dTAP and DPT vaccines have been used for years to beat Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus and are vital to stopping a Pertussis epidemic.

Information about the various vaccines:

  • DTP is the older version of the vaccine which is used in some countries but has been phased out of the United States.
  • DtAP is the most current vaccine recommended by the CDC for anyone seven years of age and younger.
  • tDAP is the booster shot given to older children to ensure they remain protected from Whooping Cough.
  • The CDC strongly recommends inoculations for anyone who is pregnant.
  • All of the vaccines have been proven safe, with minimal reported side effects including redness at the inoculation area and slight fever. Links between vaccinations and Autism or other behavioral issues have been discredited. And, in fact, some contend that this type of unsubstantiated fear have contributed to the Whooping Cough resurgence.
  • Many health care facilities and some drug stores offer the vaccine at minimal cost or even for free.

Vaccinations provide immense benefits for the health of the general public. Diseases such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella are nearing extinction due to the adoption of safe and convenient vaccinations.

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