Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough: an infectious disease caused by Bordetella pertussis, marked by catarrh of the respiratory tract and peculiar paroxysms of cough, ending in a prolonged crowing or whooping respiration. It is spread by airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze, or through contact with contaminated articles.

Pertussis:  whooping cough

Bordetella:  a bacteria

Catarrh:  inflammation of a mucous membrane (particularly of the head and throat), with free discharge

Paroxysm:  a sudden recurrence or intensification of symptoms; -a spasm or seizure

Whooping cough, a contagious respiratory infection, is considered one of the most serious and preventable childhood diseases. Getting your children immunize helps to reduce the spread of this disease. Theirs a required vaccination against this in most states. If untreated, it can cause lung damage, bronchial infections; in infants, it can lead to brain damage and may even result in death.

Teen agers and adults can become infected, but it is most often associated with young children.


Early stage: runny nose, low grade fever, an a persistent cough

Second Stage (approx. 7-10 days after exposure): severe to violent spasms of coughing, followed by whooping cough (high pitched whistling sound), though in babies, this sound is often muted( babies are often too weak to make the whooping sound). Patient may cough up mucous ( copious amounts of thick saliva), and vomiting is common. This phase may last up to six weeks, during this period, patients are susceptible to secondary infections that can be serious.

*Infants under two months, apnea (cessation of breathing) can occur, during which the infant's lips may turn blue from lack of oxygen.


Whooping cough is very serious, it requires prompt medical treatment. See your doctor ASAP, delaying can lead to serious complications, particularly in children. Remember this is highly contagious.

*Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic therapy, an antibiotic that can be effective in reducing the length and severity of the infection, such as erythromycin. He/She may prescribed a medication that will relieve coughing, such a codeine.

*In severe cases, hospitalization may be required to prevent dehydration and to permit quick administration of oxygen should the patient experience difficulty breathing.

*Get your children immunize: The DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine is given in five doses between the ages of 2 months and 6 years. Studies shows 90% effective when the child receives all five doses; however, it does not provide permanent immunity.

Five years after the final dose, a previously immunized child is no longer protected; however, reimmunization is not recommended because the vaccine can trigger severe side effects in older children and adults. A preventive course of erythromycin (or another antibiotic therapy) may be prescribed when a child comes down with whooping cough.

Reaction to DPT vaccine: *mild fever, drowsiness and fretfulness are common.

*If your child develops a very high fever, persistent crying or seizures: Call your doctor ASAP or seek emergency medical care immediately. Your child may have a severe reaction to the vaccine.

*NOTE: Most health care provider believe that the risks of whooping cough far exceed the risks of the vaccine.

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