What is Pertussis?
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that commonly affects infants and young children. It is especially dangerous and potentially fatal in babies less than one year of age.
Children with pertussis cough repeatedly and sometimes violently. This is generally followed by a loud “whooping” breath that gives pertussis its “whooping cough” nickname.
Who Should Get the Pertussis Vaccine?
Along with vaccinating infants, the CDC recommends “cocooning,” a unique vaccine strategy that aims to protect newborns by administering the vaccine to mothers, family members, and any other person who will come into contact with the infant.
DTaP booster vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, but is only licensed for children less than 7 years of age. Because older people need protection too, a similar vaccine called Tdap is recommended for people 11-64 year of age.
If needed, please visit a MedSpring center nearest you to get your whooping cough vaccine.
Important Facts about Pertussis
- Outbreaks of pertussis have been on the rise in the past few years in the United States. In 2010, more cases of pertussis were reported than any year since 1959.
- Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks in severe cases.
- The CDC now recommends that pregnant women receive Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy to reduce the risk of pertussis in new mothers and young infants.
- Before a vaccine was available, pertussis caused 5,000 - 10,000 deaths in the United States each year. Now, the pertussis vaccine has reduced the annual number of deaths to less than 30.
What Are The Common Signs and Symptoms of Pertussis?
Initial symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold:
- Runny nose
- Mild cough
- Mild fever
After 1-2 weeks, symptoms evolve into:
- Coughing spells
- “Whooping sounds” when breathing
- Apnea (pause in breathing)
- Changes in skin tone (red or purple)
- Swollen tongue or throat
If your child is showing symptoms of pertussis, consult a physician for prompt diagnosis and treatment. MedSpring offers the pertussis vaccine from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Walk-ins are welcome, or call ahead to make an appointment.
Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control. www.cdc.gov/pertussis
American Academy of Pediatrics. www2.aap.org/immunization/illnesses/dtp/pertussis.html