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.....PERTUSSIS (Whooping-Cough)




...... Pertussis is a bacterial infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. The germ is spread when infected people cough or sneeze.

.....Children with pertussis have decreased ability to cough up respiratory secretions and develop thick, glue-like mucus in the windpipe. This causes severe coughing spells that make it difficult for them to eat, drink, or breathe. The child may suffer from coughing spells for two to three Whooping cough-saludHEALTHinfoweeks or longer. Sometimes the child coughs several times before breathing in; when the child finally does breathe in there is often a loud gasp or “whooping” sound. The disease is most severe when it occurs early in life; it often requires hospitalization.

.....The majority of pertussis-related deaths are in young infants which may occur when other bacteria take the opportunity to invade the sick infant’s lungs. Primary pertussis pneumonia also may be life-threatening in infancy.

......Pertussis is one of the most contagious human diseases, so it is a great risk to those who are unvaccinated. Pertussis will develop in 90% of unvaccinated children living with someone with pertussis, and in 50% to 80% of unvaccinated children who attend school or daycare with someone with pertussis.

......In 2004, adolescents 11-18 years of age and adults 19-64 years of age accounted for 34% and 27% of the cases of pertussis in the US. The true numbers are probably much higher in these age ranges because pertussis is often not recognized in adults. These cases are very important because teenagers and adults with pertussis can transmit the infection to other people, including infants who are at greatest risk for complications and death.

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. The pertussis vaccine is safe for children and adults. Pertussis vaccination begins at two months of age, but young infants are not adequately protected until the initial series of three shots is complete at 6 months of age. The series of shots that most children receive wears off by the time they finish middle school. Neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime immunity.

Pregnant women may be vaccinated against pertussis before pregnancy, during pregnancy or after giving birth. Fathers may be vaccinated at any time, but preferably before the birth of their baby. CDPH encourages birthing hospitals to implement policies to vaccinate new mothers and fathers before sending newborns home. CDPH is providing vaccine free of charge to hospitals.

Others who may have contact with infants, including family members, healthcare workers, and childcare workers, should also be vaccinated. Individuals should contact their regular health care provider or local health department to inquire about pertussis vaccination.

During a pertussis outbreak, unimmunized children under age 7 should not attend school or public gatherings, and should be isolated from anyone known or suspected to be infected. This should last until 14 days after the last reported case.

For more information about whooping cough vaccines, please call County of San Diego HHSA Immunization Branch at (619) 692-8661




Salud+HealthInfo is for information and educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for personal medical attention, diagnosis or hands-on treatment. If you are concerned abut your health or that of a child, please consult your family's physician or health provider immediately and do not try to diagnose yourself.

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