Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Preventable by Vaccination

What is Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough, known as Pertussis, is a vaccine preventable disease that effects mainly infants and young children. It is a respiratory tract infection, that resembles the common chest cold, but to infants it may be serious or even fatal. Cases of pertussis are on the rise, with over 32,000 reported pertussis cases in the United States in 2014.

Transmission of Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough is spread by sneezing or coughing, and susceptible individuals breathing in the infectious bacteria. This highly infectious bacteria attaches to the lining of your respiratory tract and causes swelling. Once the person develops whooping cough, they are contagious for approximately 2 weeks.

How do I know if my child has Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough usually begins resembling a common cold, but after 1-2 weeks a more severe cough develops. Coughing fits can be so violent that the individual cannot get adequate air into their lungs, resulting in a whooping sound when trying to catch their breath. Other signs and symptoms include: runny nose, mild fever, phlegm, sneezing and nasal congestion.

The History of Pertussis

Pertussis was discovered in the 16th century, and was the most common childhood disease and a major cause of death of children in the 20th century. Since the vaccine was created, infections have decreased by almost 80%, but remains the most common childhood illness.

Complications of Pertussis

Pertussis can develop a secondary infection of bacterial pneumonia, which can be problematic to young children.
Infants are more susceptible for neurological complications due to the lack of oxygen.
Rib fractures from excessive coughing may occur.

How to Prevent Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough is preventable by a vaccination known as Tdap. This vaccine is a combination vaccine that prevents one from contracting pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women, infants, and those in close care or proximity of infants receive the vaccination. Due to the fact that people of all ages are susceptible to whooping cough, the Tdap shot is recommended for children ages birth-6 years, and a booster at 11-18 years, and an additional shot is recommended for adults who did not receive a booster as a teen.