, commonly referred to as “whooping cough
,” can be especially contagious and extremely dangerous. So what can you do during an outbreak, and what can you expect if you are infected?
Brace yourself for some sobering news.Symptoms, Complications, and the Harm of Pertussis
Whooping cough should be taken seriously no matter who you are, but it can be rife with danger for infants that are too young to be vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of babies younger than one year of age must be hospitalized because of the disease. And almost 25 percent end up getting pneumonia.
Even worse, it carries a 10-20 percent chance of ending fatally.
Whooping Cough can cause runny nose or congestion, sneezing and a possible cough or fever; similar to the common cold
. But after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing can begin, lasting over 10 weeks in some cases. And it isn’t just your average kerfuffle, as pertussis comes with violent and rapid coughing, which can lead to an “apnea,” or a pause in a person’s breathing pattern.
It can even lead to vomiting and loss of consciousness.
With the very potent ability to spread, it’s one of the more contagious diseases
out there. It can pass via coughing or sneezing in close contact with others, often when the infected individual has no idea that he or she is even sick.
Because of its sly maneuvering, epidemics and outbreaks can be common, and tend to peak every 3-5 years. Outbreaks, Vaccinations, and Treatment
The CDC is keeping track of these very outbreaks, declaring an epidemic in Washington on April 3, 2012. There have been 3,400 cases reported statewide through August 4, compared to just 287 reported cases during that same stretch in 2011. Minnesota and Wisconsin are also experiencing higher rates of pertussis, and some government health officials are wondering just how large the spread is going to be.
Because of that spread, the CDC is strongly supporting vaccination. There are inoculations for infants, children, pre-teens, teens and adults. Children should, ideally, be vaccinated at two, four, and six months of age, followed by a fourth shot around one-and-a-half years. The fifth and final shot is given when a child enters school, usually between four and seven years of age.
Sound like a process? It can be. But it might be what saves you or a loved one from weeks of discomfort, or even worse. Especially if you don’t know whether you received all of your booster shots. And if there is an infant in your life, it’s critical to make sure you can’t pass along this horrible coughing disease.
So if you feel a cough coming on, make sure to monitor it, even though it’s likely nothing more than a passing cold. But as soon as that whooping starts to make itself known, make sure you get to a doctor’s office immediately.
Because unless it’s a 90’s theme night at the local bowling alley, the last thing you want to hear is “Whoop… there it is.”Cited Sources
"Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – What You Need To Know." CDC.gov
. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 08 Aug. 2012. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/features/pertussis/>.
Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. "Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors." Pertussis. U.S. National Library of Medicine
, 18 Nov. 2000. Web. 14 Aug. 2012. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002528/>.
"Pertussis: Outbreaks." CDC.gov
. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Aug. 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks.html>.