Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Understanding Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Each year in the U.S., thousands of people are affected by whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease. Those most at risk include infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, children who haven't received all doses of the vaccine, and adults whose immunity has faded.

  • Symptoms: Whooping cough symptoms can start like a common cold with a runny nose, low-grade fever, and mild cough. As it progresses, severe coughing spells that end in a "whooping" sound can occur, leading to difficulty in breathing.
  • Transmission: Pertussis spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can be especially dangerous for babies less than a year old.

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Prevention: The Three "P"s

  1. Protect: Ensure that you and your family are up-to-date with the DTaP vaccine for infants and children, and the Tdap booster for preteens, teens, and adults.
  2. Prevent: Avoid close contact with individuals showing symptoms of whooping cough. If diagnosed, follow your doctor's advice on treatment and isolation.
  3. Practice: Good hygiene practices like covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. Regularly wash your hands and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Whooping Cough Vaccination

Who Should Get Vaccinated?: It's recommended for infants and children in a series of five DTaP shots. A Tdap booster is advised for preteens at age 11 or 12, pregnant women during each pregnancy, and adults who haven't received it.

Where to Get Vaccinated: Consult your local health department or pediatrician. Many local pharmacies and health centers also offer the pertussis vaccine.

Safety and Precautions: Always consult with your health care provider before getting vaccinated, especially if you have allergies or have had reactions to vaccines in the past.

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