Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

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Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Whooping cough is a serious, contagious, respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is particularly serious in young children. One in every 200 babies who contract the infection will die. Whooping cough can be prevented by immunisation.

What Causes The Disease And How Is It Spread?
Pertussis or Whooping Cough is a bacterium that is spread from person to person by an infected person coughing or sneezing. When coughing or sneezing tiny germ-laden droplets are sprayed into the air and breathed into the lungs of anyone nearby.

Symptoms and Signs
Once you become infected with whooping cough it can take around one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. They start off mild and people mistake it for a cold with a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red and watery eyes, a mild fever and a dry cough. After a week or two, the signs and symptoms start to worsen. Thicker mucus accumulates inside your airways causing uncontrollable coughing; server and prolonged coughing attacks may provoke vomiting, cause red or blue face, extreme fatigue and end with a high-pitched “whoop” sound during the next breath of air. However, many people don’t develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes just a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough.

How Is It Treated?
In the early stages symptoms can be reduced by taking antibiotics. Treatment will reduce the risk of passing the infection to others, if it is given in the first 21 days of the illness. Members of the infected person’s house should take precautions by taking the antibiotic as well even if they are fully immunised.

Pre-vaccination Information
In the pre-vaccination era, whooping cough was a universal disease almost always seen in children. Between 1940- 1945, before the widespread vaccination as many as 147000 cases of whooping cough was reported in the United States alone, with each year 8000...
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