Pertussis (most often known as whooping cough) is a very contagious illness and can cause serious symptoms in infants. According...
Pertussis (most often known as whooping cough) is a very contagious illness and can cause serious symptoms in infants. According to the CDC, whooping cough is one of the most commonly occurring illnesses in the United States, even though it's preventable with a simple vaccine. Whooping cough starts out looking like a common cold with symptoms such as runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. After 1-2 weeks the illness grows and coughing begins. The CDC notes, "Infants and children with the disease cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they're forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound." More than half of infants under one year of age who get whooping cough must be hospitalized. About 1 in 5 infants with pertussis get pneumonia (lung infection), and about 1 in 100 will have convulsions. In rare cases (1 in 100), pertussis can be deadly, especially in infants. Your baby can catch whooping cough from other people who have it. If those other people cough or sneeze when in close contact with your baby. Usually infants who get whooping cough are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Since the 1980s, there's been an increase in the number of cases of whooping cough among babies under the age of six months. In fact, in 2008 the CDC reported more than 13,000 reported cases including 18 deaths from whooping cough nationally. Prevention of whooping cough: Prevention is easy if you know the basics.
- Once your baby is old enough you should make sure he or she gets the pertussis vaccine series. In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP (pdf). Also make sure your baby receives his shots on schedule (there are five shots in the series).
- Adolescents and adults who failed to get vaccinated should do so, especially if there's a new baby in the house.
- Keep your baby away from folks who seem sick. They may just have a cold, but they could have something worse too.