Whooping Cough Making A Comeback? Pertussis Epidemic Concerns

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Bordetella pertussis. Photo by: CDC

According to the Mayo Clinic, the pertussis vaccine is often times combined with vaccines of two other diseases – diphtheria and tetanus.

This one vaccine is called DTaP, and is given to infants at the ages of 2, 4, 6, 15-18  months, and then again at four to six years old.

The vaccine is then given every ten years as a booster.

Pregnant women are also encouraged to get the DTaP vaccine after 20 weeks gestation in hopes of transmitting immunity to the unborn baby.

Those who choose not to vaccinate their children are putting their kids at risk for pertussis, according to the CDC.

Decoded Science asked Alison Patti about the importance of vaccination. She told us that, “Whooping cough spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. A person with whooping cough can infect up to 12 to 15 other people. Parents should know that children who haven’t received DTaP vaccines are at least 8 times more likely to get whooping cough than children who received all 5 recommended doses of DTaP. Keeping up to date with recommended whooping cough vaccines is the best way to protect children.”

Whooping Cough Outbreaks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46 states and Washington, D.C. have seen an increase in cases in August 2012, compared to August 2011, and a pertussis epidemic was declared on April 3, 2012 in Washington. They have experienced 3,794 cases as of August 25, 2012; compared to 363 cases during the same time frame in 2011. Minnesota and Wisconsin are not far behind either. As for the rest of the United States, during the first half of 2012, most of the country has seen an increase in cases.

Decoded Science asked Alison Patti about the concerns with  the increase in outbreaks and children returning to school. She responded: “Yes, there are concerns that whooping cough cases may increase as kids go back to school. Schools should make sure children are up to date with recommended whooping cough vaccines, enforcing any school entry laws they may have related to vaccines. For any cough, schools should encourage kids to practice good cough etiquette.  If a student is diagnosed with whooping cough, they should stay home for 5 days while completing antibiotic treatment.”

Start of School and Whooping Cough: Are You Ready?

With the start of school, it is important to have all your child’s vaccinations up-to date. Pertussis can be a deadly disease that is preventable with vaccinations, so talk with your child’s doctor about any questions or concerns that you may have – and if you suspect pertussis, seek medical treatment.

Resources:

PubMed Health. Pertussis. August 22, 2011. Accessed September 6, 2012.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis: Frequently Asked Questions. August 27, 2012. Accessed September 6, 2012.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis: Outbreaks. August 29, 2012. Accessed September 6, 2012.

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