The California Department of Public Health is reporting that as of mid September, there have been over 4000 cases of probable, confirmed, and suspected cases of pertussis in 2010. Pertussis is more commonly known as whooping cough because of the sound that emanates from a person that has been infected by pertussis. Reports of pertussis have been on the increase across the nation in 2008, and 2009, as well as 2010. The latest report from the California Department of Public Health show that the number of cases of whooping cough are at the highest rate since 1955. In 2004, the total number of pertussis cases stood at 8000 across the entire nation. California has already recorded half that value up until September.
Higher incidences of whooping cough are seen in children and infants. However, they are not the only age group that can be affected by whooping cough. Adults can get the disease as well, especially if they have not been vaccinated. Since the disease is very contagious, if you plan to be around children of infants you should check with your doctor about getting vaccinated for whooping cough.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough
Whooping Cough is caused by a bacteria, that can spread by coughing and sneezes. It is highly contagious, and can last for months if left untreated. Whooping cough brings violent coughing fits, vomiting, and weight loss.
Initial symptoms of whooping cough start out like a common cold about a week after the initial exposure to the bacteria. Then about a week or two later, severe fits of coughing are experienced, that may lead to vomiting or loss of consciousness.
Diagnosing pertussis is done by a doctor. The doctor will take a mucus sample that is sent to a lab for testing. Tests take a few days, and the doctor may start a treatment of antibiotics even before the lab results are reported, if symptoms of whooping cough are present.
Prevention and Treatment of Whooping Cough
The California Department of Public Health recommends that the best way to prevent whooping cough stop it before it infects your child’s body. Children should get vaccinated regularly up until about age 6, with a booster at age 11. The CDPH recommends that children need five doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP) by kindergarten. Then children should get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster by age 11.
If you think you or your child is coming down with pertussis then you should contact your doctor. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that will help fight the bacteria that causes whooping cough. The earlier you start antibiotic treatment, the better chances you have for limiting the severe coughing fits associated with pertussis.
Over the counter cough suppressants and expectorants are not helpful and should be avoided when dealing with whooping cough.