Whooping cough, as the common name for Pertussis, is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by uncontrollable and violent cough that makes it difficult to breathe. This difficulty in breathing is usually followed by taking deep breaths that produce a “whooping” sound.
Whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella pertussis that attach to the cilia, the hair-like extension part of the upper respiratory system. This bacteria release toxic materials that damage the cilia, thereby causing the passageway of air to swell.
Most people believe that whooping cough only affects babies. However, in fact, pertussis can affect people of all ages, but is considered to be extremely serious and threatening for children less than a year old.
Whooping Cough Is Highly Contagious
Whooping cough is a very infectious illness that easily spreads from one individual to another, usually by coughing or sneezing. This contagious disease can be spread just by merely sharing breathing space with other individuals in a long period of time. Many babies are usually infected by individuals who surround them, such as parents, siblings, caregivers, and other individuals who may even probably be clueless that they are infected with pertussis. Individuals infected by this illness are most contagious up to around two weeks after the coughing begins.
So, how does one even know he has a contagious whooping cough? Symptoms manifest differently in adults and in children.
For adults, this illness usually begins cold-like symptoms, and sometimes a mild cough or fever. In its early ages, the symptoms include runny nose, slight fever, and occasional mild coughing, which can last for about one to two weeks. For babies, it may be characterized by minimal coughing, or even nothing. What may be a visible symptom for babies is apnea, a pause in the breathing pattern.
It may appear to be just a common cold, which is why healthcare professionals diagnose type of cough usually only when the more severe symptoms develop. These later-stage symptoms include rapid coughing which is followed by a whooping sound, vomiting, and exhaustion after coughing fits.
For babies, because they are more vulnerable to pertussis, they usually need care in the hospital.
Prevention: Whooping Cough Vaccine
Because this respiratory illness is highly contagious and can be very dangerous especially for babies, it is important to get vaccinated. “Prevention is better than cure”, they say. The best way to be protected against this difficulty in coughing is by getting a Whooping Cough Vaccine.
There are two vaccines that protect people against this type of cough: 1) DTaP for young children and 2) Tdap for teens and adults.
Who Should Get A Whooping Cough Vaccine?
Babies are the most vulnerable to the wrath of whooping cough. This serious illness can cause them to stop breathing, get pneumonia, or even die.
If you are pregnant, getting yourself a shot of this cough vaccine can give protection to your child during each pregnancy. With the whooping cough vaccine Tdap, the body creates antibodies that get passed to your baby before they are born. These antibodies serve as short-term protection in early life.
Babies need to build their own wall of protection against whooping cough, too. You can further help protect your baby from this condition by having him vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends five doses of DTaP for your baby’s best protection against whooping cough.
In addition to these, everyone, children and adults alike, who surround your baby need to be up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine. Because whooping cough is a very contagious disease, having one member of the household who has the disease may put risk to everyone else, especially babies.
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