Whooping Cough Incidence On The Rise In NJ
Whooping cough is surfacing again and New Jersey residents are urged to get their vaccines. Whooping cough, clinically known as pertussis, mainly affects infants younger than 6 months old, who are not yet adequately protected by immunizations, and kids 11 to 18 years old, whose immunity has started to fade. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease and caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis. Known for the uncontrollable, violent coughing, pertussis makes breathing difficult.
In its kid-friendly fact sheet, the CDC profiles the history of “Whoopie Doopies.” Doctors have been dealing with pertussis for at least 500 years. Finally, in 1906, scientists were able to identify and see Bordetella pertussis bacteria through a microscope—a first step in learning how to stop its evil tricks. From 1940–45, before the vaccine was widely used, 200,000 people in the United States were infected each year. In the 1940s, vaccinating against pertussis became routine and the tables turned for the better. Now, 10,000 to 40,000 people are infected each year, and very few die.
Whooping Cough Symptoms
Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms, therefore, it may go unsuspected or undiagnosed until more severe symptoms start appearing. Severe coughing may begin after one to two weeks, and early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks. These usually include:
- Runny nose
- Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease)
- Mild, occasional cough
- Pauses in breathing
As the disease progresses, more symptoms of pertussis typically appear including:
- Fits of repeated, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop”
- Exhaustion after coughing fits
While not everyone with pertussis coughs or “whoops,” the characteristic sound is unmistakable and leaves its victims literally gasping for air.
Just as with other respiratory illnesses, pertussis is spread from being in close contact with others who are infected who cough or sneeze near you. Practice good hygiene to stay healthy by:
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Place your used tissue in the trash (not on the countertop)
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow (not your hands)
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- When a sink is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Prevention: Whooping Cough Vaccine (Tdap Pertussis)
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the best way to protect against whooping cough (pertussis) is still to get a vaccine. eMedical Urgent Care offers the Tdap pertussis vaccine, which is recommended for all adults, teenagers, preteens and pregnant women who will be around a new baby. The CDC reports whooping cough vaccines are effective in 7 out of 10 people who get them within the first year, but the protection decreases over time. Only 3 or 4 people out of every 10 are protected after four years.