Whooping cough can be prevented

Whooping cough can be prevented

According to data released by the State of Wisconsin in July, there have been 18,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) reported in the United States – 3,169 of these cases were reported in Wisconsin.

Pertussis or whooping cough usually starts like a cold with a mild cough, runny nose or fever. After a week or two, severe coughing fits may begin. People infected with whooping cough are contagious up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins – that means during the first 2 weeks when people just thought it was a cold, the disease can spread easily.

One symptom of whooping cough is the loud “whooping” sound people make during violent and rapid coughing fits. As air is drained from the lungs, the person is forced to inhale or gasp for air. People who experience extreme coughing fits may also vomit or become exhausted. This symptom can last for up to 10 weeks.

Click here hear what whooping cough sounds like.

It is important to note that people with less severe cases of pertussis, may not develop the tell-tale cough, but still have the disease and are still contagious.

Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies younger than 1 year of age. More than half of these infants will require hospitalization due to following complications reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • 1 in 4 babies will develop pneumonia (lung infection)
  • 1 or 2 babies in 100 will have convulsions
  • Two thirds of babies with whooping cough (67%) will have slowed or stopped breathing
  • 1 in 300 babies will develop encephalopathy, a disease of the brain
  • 1 or 2 in 100 will die

The disease is not without complications for teens and adults. Besides the development of pneumonia, the complications affecting teens and adults are often caused by the coughing fits.

  • Weight loss (33%)
  • Loss of bladder control (28%)
  • Passing out (6%)
  • Rib fractures from severe coughing (4%)

Whooping cough is easily prevented with Tdap vaccines given to children starting at 2 months of age.

“We work hard to provide education on the vaccine,” said Tony Keegan, DO, Ministry Medical Group OB / GYN. “We discuss it during pregnancy and following delivery.”

Ministry Health Care also adopts the concept of Tdap cocooning, which is a process of vaccinating anyone who comes in contact with the baby in the first few months of life, including the expectant mother.

“It’s all about keeping the baby healthy,” shared Cindy Weisbrod, RN, Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital Women and Infant Center manager. “Most patients and families are getting it (Tdap vaccine) at the clinic; we are offering that extra security when we see them at delivery. For information about whooping cough vaccines, contact your health care provider.

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