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Whooping Cough


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Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough is an acute infection of the respiratory tract, seen only in children. It is typically a prolonged illness with an average duration of 6-8 weeks. The incubation period is 7-10 days. Anyone can get whooping cough, but the health effects are usually much worse for children less than a year old. In Canada, whooping cough now kills one to three infants per year, usually those who are unvaccinated, or under-vaccinated. With proper care, most teenagers and adults recover from whooping cough without complications. Whooping cough is more serious in children, especially infants younger than 6 months of age.

Whooping cough - known medically as pertussis -is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria and is extremely contagious. Before a vaccine was available, pertussis killed 5,000 to 10,000 people in the United States each year. In the more advanced stages, it's marked by the symptom that gives the disease its name: a severe, hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop." Worldwide, there were over 45 million cases of whooping cough and 409,000 deaths in 1997—making this easy-to-prevent disease one of the leading causes of illness and death. Pertussis vaccine is most commonly given in combination with the vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus in the vaccine known as “DPT.” Today only a few get whooping cough. Treatment of whooping cough is supportive, meaning that treatment is directed at the symptoms, e.g., cough; however, young infants often need hospitalization if the coughing becomes severe.

Whooping cough - or pertussis - is an infection of the respiratory system caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis (or B. pertussis ). Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. The bacterium responsible for the infection, Bordetella pertussis, was not isolated until 1906. Each year, 5,000-7,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) are recorded each year in the United States. Whooping cough is the most common vaccine-preventable disease among children younger than 5 years in the United States. Symptoms of the infection include prolonged, violent, coughing spasms that often cause thick mucus and severe inhaling difficulties. Since then, however, the incidence of whooping cough has been increasing, primarily among children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers whose immunity has faded .

Causes of Whooping Cough

The common Causes of Whooping Cough :

  • Whooping cough really refers to infections caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, but an identical illness is produced by Bordetella parapertussis, Bordetella bronchiseptica and several types of adenovirus.
  • Because of this fine distinction, the diagnosis of whooping cough is frequently missed in adults and thus allows the bacteria to spread to more susceptible infants and children.
  • Coughing adolescents and adults (usually not recognized as having pertussis) are the major reservoir for Bordetella pertussis and are the usual sources for the initial case in infants and children.
  • Inhaling droplets from the sneeze or cough of a person infected with whooping cough
  • Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis Bordetella pertussis is also called B. pertussis.
  • The disease, however, tends to be milder in adults-often just a persistent cough that is much like an upper respiratory infection or cold.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough

Some common Symptoms of Whooping Cough :

  • Gagging or vomiting may occur after severe coughing spells. Cough may be worse at night.
  • The person may look and feel healthy between coughing episodes.
  • Nosebleeds and subconjunctival haemorrhages (bleeding into the white of the eye) may occur with intense coughing.
  • Fatigue from coughing so much.
  • If you think your child might have whooping cough you should consult your doctor. '
  • In babies, whooping cough can cause apnoea (when breathing stops) and sudden death.
  • Coughing attacks may occur up to 40 times a day and the disease can last for up to eight weeks.
  • Severe coughing attacks that bring up thick phlegm.
  • A bout of whooping cough can be very distressing for both the child and the parents who feel unable to help.
  • General feeling of being unwell and loss of appetite

Treatment of Whooping Cough

Here is the list of the methods for treating Whooping Cough :

  • Treatment is most effective early in the disease. A health care provider must prescribe an antibiotic active against pertussis.
  • Persons treated with antibiotics are no longer contagious after the first 5 days of appropriate antibiotic treatment have been completed.
  • There is one other antibiotic which seems to have some marginal effect, but essentially if your child gets whooping cough you are in for a worrying few weeks and all you can do is be supportive and try symptom relief such as paracetamol and steam inhalations
  • Eat small, frequent meal to decrease the amount of vomiting.
  • Keep the home environment free from irritants that can trigger coughing, such as smoke, aerosols, and fumes.
  • The effect of antibiotics is uncertain but they are sometimes used in the early period of the disease.
  • Complications can involve secondary infections eg pneumonia and collapse of the lung, and also effects on the nervous system eg encephalitis or fits (convulsions).
  • The most common treatments are: antibiotics and medications to reduce fever.