Pertussis (whooping cough) is very contagious and can cause serious illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated. Pertussis vaccines are recommended for children, teens, and adults, including pregnant women.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States.

As of early October 18, 2012, more than 32,000 cases have been reported across the US, including 16 deaths. The majority of deaths continue to occur among infants younger than 3 months of age.

Pertussis Symptoms

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. They may instead have life-threatening pauses in breathing (apnea).

Pertussis Vaccine Protection

There is high pertussis vaccine coverage for children nationwide. However, protection from the childhood vaccine decreases over time. Preteens, teens and adults need to be revaccinated, even if they were completely vaccinated as children.

How Pertussis Spreads

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Pertussis Symptoms

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. They may instead have life-threatening pauses in breathing (apnea).

Preventing Pertussis

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

For more information about Pertussis visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/Pertussis/

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – What You Need To Know. Retrieved October 31, 2012 from http://www.cdc.gov/features/Pertussis/







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