Physicians are seeing more and more cases of whooping cough. This article offers some background information on this disease and its prevention through immunization. You may also want to check out our recent article on vaccinations at https://www.2ascribe.com/articles/health-wellness/answering-parents-concerns-about-vaccinations.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Pertussis, most commonly known as whooping cough, is coming back in higher numbers in recent months. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) monitors the increased cases, which it says can be blamed on the missed vaccinations and the disease running in cycles of every two to five years. Several provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta have had an increase in the number of reported cases this year.
Whooping cough, according to the PHAC, is a vaccine-preventable disease, and is the second most frequently reported of those. Here are some other facts about the disease:
Why is whooping cough (pertussis) of such concern? Isn’t it just a really bad cough that can last a while?
While the symptoms may seem mild at first, they can worsen quickly. The cough can last from six to 12 weeks or longer. Coughing spells, especially in young infants, can lead to vomiting, breathing problems, choking spells, brain damage, and even death.
Teens and adults can have similar complications—vomiting, breathing problems, and the violent coughing could lead to a pulled muscle.
Who is at most risk?
Young infants who have not yet been immunized are at most risk, and the risk may come from older children, teens, or adults living in the same house.
What are the steps to take to prevent getting the illness, or spreading it if you’re infected? How often should children be vaccinated? What about teens and adults? This is the latest available information from PHAC: The best way to protect against infection is to ensure that both you and your child are fully immunized. A child under six years needs five doses of the Pertussis vaccine, starting at two months of age, to be fully immunized. An additional booster dose, combined with tetanus and diphtheria (Tdap) vaccine, is given routinely to adolescents between 14 to 16 years of age across Canada.
It is recommended that adults not previously immunized against pertussis receive one dose of the Tdap vaccine. Consult your health care provider if you are unsure if you have been immunized against pertussis.
Proper hand washing may prevent the spread of pertussis, as well as other infectious diseases.
How can you tell if it’s pertussis and not bronchitis or another cough-related illness?
If the cough lasts more than a week, or if there are other symptoms, such as shortness of breath or vomiting, you should see a health provider immediately. It’s important to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. It’s also important to avoid contact with young children.
Symptoms may not appear until seven to 10 days after exposure to an infected person, and may be delayed up to 20 days.
The infected person is contagious up to three weeks, with the worst of the contagious period being in the first two weeks, when symptoms may still be mild.
What is the treatment for pertussis?
Antibiotics may be prescribed. The best treatment is also to stay home and rest, and avoid close contact with others until the treatment is completed.
With files from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
Information was also obtained from articles about whooping cough on cbc.ca
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