Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a very contagious respiratory illness that starts out like a cold — symptoms included a runny nose, congestion, sneezing and perhaps a cough that becomes increasingly explosive and quick.
The disease spreads when the coughing and sneezing occurs in close contact with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on its website, states that most infants who contract whooping cough actually catch it from adults or older siblings who can be unaware they are infected.
It can be most dangerous for babies, wth more than half of those younger than 1 year ending up hospitalized, the CDC reports. About a quarter of infants develop pneumonia, and about two-thirds will experience slowed or stopped breating. The illness can be deadly for 1 to 2 percent of infants who are hospitalized.
As pertussis develops, coughing comes in paroxysms — many rapid coughs followed by the “whoop” sound that is characteristic of the disease. Vomiting also is a sympton, as is exhaustion after coughing fits, the CDC reports.
- Hear what pertussis sounds like in an infant at PKIDS Online.
- Hear what pertussis sounds like in an adult at The New England Journal of Medicine.
The CDC says vaccines are the best way to prevent the disease, although it advises keeping children away as much as possible from anyone with cough symptoms or who is coughing.
The Kane County Public Health Department release states that the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium, which is composed of the Kane County and 10 other public health departments; the Chicago Area Immunization Campaign; the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians are working to press the message of updating vaccinations against deadly diseases.
“Diseases that have been practically eliminated in the U.S. are just a plane ride away, so while we are seeing near record low cases of some vaccine preventable diseases here, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist and are a threat,” said Dr. Julie Morita, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health Immunization Program.
Most vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare. But the release stated that some outbreaks still occur.
“Making sure that children of all ages receive all of their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things that parents can do to ensure their children’s long-term health — as well as the health of friends, classmates and family,” Dr. Morita said in the release.
More information about communicable diseases is available by visiting the Kane County Health Department’s web page at http://kanehealth.com/communicable_disease.htm.