Pertussis

(Whooping Cough)

IDENTIFICATION AND DEFINITION

Pertussis is commonly known as whooping cough is a contagious respiratory disease that is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough can start with symptoms like the common cold but can progress to uncontrollable, violent coughing making it hard to breathe. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but is most serious for babies less than a year old. The best practice of prevention is by getting vaccinated.

HISTORY OF PERTUSSIS

The first symptoms of pertussis were first described in the 16th century, yet the disease causing bacteria, Bordetella pertussis, wasn't isolated until 1906. In the 20th century, pertussis was one of the most common childhood diseases with more than 200,000 cases of pertussis reported annually. The pertussis vaccine became available in the 1940s.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PERTUSSIS

Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5 to 10 days after being exposed, but it can take up to 3 weeks for symptoms to develop.


Symptoms during first 1 to 2 weeks:

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild,occasional cough


Symptoms for next 1-6 weeks:

  • Fits of numerous, rapid coughs followed by "whoop" sound
  • Vomiting after coughing fits
  • Exhaustion after coughing fits


Symptoms for the next 2-3 weeks:

  • Coughing lessens
  • Recovery is gradual


SOURCE: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/signs-symptoms.html

TRANSMISSION OF PERTUSSIS

The bacteria Bordetella pertussis, that causes pertussis, attach to the cilia that line the upper respiratory system and they release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause the airways to swell. Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. Those infected with pertussis usually spread the disease to another person by coughing or sneezing or shared breathing space. Infected people are most contagious about 2 weeks after the cough begins.

COMPLICATIONS OF PERTUSSIS

BABIES AND CHILDREN


Pertussis can cause serious and sometimes deadly complications in babies and found children, especially those who are not fully vaccinated.

About half of the babies that are 1 year old or younger need to be hospitalized, also the younger the baby the more likely hospitalization will be needed.


Of those babies that are hospitalized with pertussis about:

  • 1 in 4 get pneumonia
  • 1 out of 100 will have convulsions
  • 3 out of 5 will have apnea
  • 1 out of 300 will have encephalopathy
  • 1 out of 100 will die


TEENS AND ADULTS


Teens and adults can also get complications from pertussis, but they are usually less serious in this age group, especially among those who have been vaccinated with the pertussis vaccine. Complications are caused by the cough itself such as passing out or potentially breaking a rib during a coughing fit.


The most common complications among those who have pertussis are:

  • 1 in 3 adults experience weight loss
  • 1 in 3 adults have a loss of bladder control
  • 3 out of 50 experience passing out
  • 1 in 25 have rib fractures from severe coughing


SOURCE: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/complications.html

RECOMMENDED CONTROL MEASURES FOR PERTUSSIS

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated, in the United States the recommended pertussis vaccine for babies and children is DTaP, which a combination vaccine that protects against: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. DTaP protects most children for at least 5 years. Being up-to-date with pertussis vaccines is especially important for families of new babies, as pertussis is the most severe when contracted by a young infant.


Worldwide there are about 16 million pertussis cases and about 195,000 pertussis deaths in children per year. Pertussis is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths worldwide. Most deaths occur in young babies who are either unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated. Countries with low vaccination rates have the highest rates of pertussis among children.


SOURCE: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/countries/index.html