Whooping Cough (pertussis) is making a comeback and that is not good for you or your community. Whooping Cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Usually a person with whooping cough will have a severe hacking cough that is followed by a “whoop” sound when inhaling.
Whooping Cough can affect people of all ages but the most vulnerable are infants because they are too young to receive a complete series of vaccinations and their immune systems are immature. Infants are also at risk for other complications such as pneumonia and encephalopathy (disease of the brain). Many infants that become infected with this bacterial infection get it from those who are closest – parents, brothers and sisters, and other caregivers that may have Whooping Cough and not know it.
The primary reason is the increasing number of non-vaccinated people. A majority of adults (61%) do not know if they have received a vaccination for whooping cough. Although most adults have received a Whooping Cough vaccination during their childhoods, they are in need of a booster shot to retain their immunity.
The symptoms of Whooping Cough can resemble the common cold and many people don’t develop the high-pitched “whoop” sound during inhalation. Sometimes the most prominent characteristic is a persistent hacking cough. The symptoms usually take one to three weeks to appear after one is infected. Generally the first symptoms are relatively mild and include:
About a week or two after the first symptoms appear they will worsen and other symptoms will appear. Persistent coughing attacks are caused by a thick mucus accumulation inside the lungs’ airways. These new symptoms may include:
First, Whooping Cough can be and is deadly for some young children and infants. Second, Whooping Cough is highly contagious, that is, it can spread easily within human populations. Third, in 2012 the United States had the highest number of Whooping Cough cases in 50 years. This implies that the overall population is not receiving the suggested vaccinations and boosters.