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Pertussis - Symptoms & Treatment


Pertussis more commonly known as whooping cough is caused by a bacterium (germ) Bordetella pertussis that lives in the mouth nose and throat. Symptoms of the infection include prolonged violent coughing spasms that often cause thick mucus and severe inhaling difficulties. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold whooping cough may eventually turn more serious particularly in infants. Before a vaccine was available, pertussis killed 5,000 to 10,000 people in the United States each year. Pertussis vaccine is most commonly given in combination with the vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus in the vaccine known as "DPT." Since then, however, the incidence of whooping cough has been increasing, primarily among children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers whose immunity has faded. With proper care, most teenagers and adults recover from whooping cough without complications. Whooping cough is more serious in children, especially infants younger than 6 months of age. Treatment of whooping cough is supportive, meaning that treatment is directed at the symptoms, e.g., cough; however, young infants often need hospitalization if the coughing becomes severe.

Pertussis is a very contagious disease of the mucous membranes that line the air passages. Worldwide, there are 30-50 million pertussis cases and about 300,000 deaths per year (World Health Organization data). But in recent years, the number of cases has started to rise. By 2004, the number of whooping cough cases spiked past 25,000, the highest level it's been since the 1950s. Although whooping cough can occur at any age, it's most severe in unimmunized children and in infants under 1 year of age (early immunization can usually prevent this serious disease in babies). It is much milder in teens, adults, and in immunized children but it can still be a real nuisance. As you might guess, it can be far worse in people with asthma or with immune deficiencies . Whooping cough is most severe and more likely to cause complications, such as pneumonia , when it occurs in the first 4 months of life, especially in babies who are born prematurely or who have not been immunized. Older adults also are at increased risk for complications.

Causes of Pertussis

The common Causes of Pertussis :

  • The main causative organism is B pertussis.
  • Bordetella parapertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica are less common than B pertussis and produce a clinical illness that is similar but milder to pertussis due to B pertussis.
  • Pertussis is caused by Bordetella pertussis a bacterium.
  • Young infants, especially those born prematurely, and patients with underlying cardiac, pulmonary, neuromuscular, or neurologic disease are at high risk for contracting the disease and for complications.

Symptoms of Pertussis

Some Symptoms of Pertussis :

  • A runny nose
  • A mild fever
  • Red, watery eyes
  •  loss of appetite.
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • tearing from the eyes.
  • Dry cough
  • fatigue.

Treatment of Pertussis

  • Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics and patients are advised to take all prescribed medication and avoid contact with anyone, particularly small infants and children.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for treatment options if you think your child may have pertussis.
  • Persons treated with antibiotics are no longer contagious after the first 5 days of appropriate antibiotic treatment have been completed.
  • If you live with someone who has pertussis or are in the same child care classroom with someone who has had pertussis, you should take preventive antibiotics.
  • Persons with pertussis should avoid contact with others until no longer contagious.
  • Take your full course of antibiotic treatment.

 

 

 

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