Preventing "Whooping Cough" - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Preventing "Whooping Cough"

(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Whooping cough (also known as Petrussis), is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that is easily preventable by vaccine. Knowing the symptoms can help prevent families from getting sick and spreading the disease.

According to mayoclinic.org, Whooping cough is also known as Petrussis and marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop."

Whooping cough was one of the most common causes of childhood deaths prior to the availability of a vaccine. Deaths have decreased dramatically since the widespread use of the vaccine began, because the bacteria is so widespread, most communities which include South Carolina, can expect cases of the disease each year.

Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children. Symptoms are very similar to a cold, the cough gradually becomes more severe 1-2 weeks after the initial symptoms. The cough is often accompanied by a characteristic “whoop” at the end of a coughing attack. This stage could last 6 weeks or longer (even after treatment) before the symptoms usually begin to decline, according to Dhec.

Infants can have unusual symptoms, such as episodes of not breathing (apnea), rapid breathing, or discoloration (cyanosis).

Antiobiotics may be used to treat the disease and depending on the timing, as prevention for close contacts of infected people. Other treatment is largely of a supportive type such as rest and plenty of liquids.

Pertussis is most often spread by contact with respiratory droplets of someone who was infected.. It is a highly communicable disease and can spread to as many as 4 out of 5 close household contacts.

The childhood vaccine is called Dtap, and the vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. It is important for adults, especially child-bearing age women to get a Tdap booster. 

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