There has been a recent outbreak of pertussis, a disease also commonly known as whooping cough, around the country. In the state of WA there have been 58 infants less than 1 year of age diagnosed with whooping cough; among these cases, 22 were hospitalized and 2 have died.
What is pertussis?
Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is particularly severe in infants. . It is an infection of the airways caused by bacteria. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized
In infants and children, the disease usually begins with runny nose, low grade fever, and mild cough that last for about 7-10 days. The cough usually worsens and infants may develop bursts of numerous rapid coughs. These bursts of cough are accompanied by sweating, facial flushing, and sometimes vomiting. With this disease, about 1 in 5 infants may develop pneumonia, about 1 in 100 will have seizures, and in rare cases whooping cough can lead to death.
Adults and adolescents also acquire this infection but do not have as a prolonged course as infants.
They usually have a prolonged, persistent cough that is often confused with acute bronchitis.
Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent the disease. 2 vaccines are available – the childhood vaccine is called DTaP vaccine and the booster vaccine for adolescent and adults is called the TdaP vaccine. Although both these vaccines protect against Pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, the immune response can fade with time.
It is important as parents and caregivers that we are all immunized in order to prevent the spread of the disease to infants and children, who are most vulnerable. The vaccine recommendations are as follows: