The Deadly Cough


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After talking in class a couple weeks about Whooping Cough, I realized I don't even know what it really is.  I started thinking about different question I had about it; like how is it spread? What are the symptoms?  Why is it so harmful for babies to get but not such a big deal for adults?

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Through some research I learned that 'Whooping Cough,' or Pertussis (the technical term), is a bacterial disease that is spread through the air because when a sufferer coughs, tiny drops of the bacteria are set free into the air and is easily caught by other people.  Even though it used to be more common in infants, more cases are seen amongst adolescents and adults due to the whooping cough vaccine that most children get before school.  The higher concentration in older patients is seen because the vaccine is not permanent and wears off after a certain amount of years.  It is recommended that adolescents and adults get the whooping cough booster shot so that they continue to stay immune to the infection.

The infection is so dangerous for infants because it is commonly perceived as the common cold because they don't produce the 'whooping' noise that occurs when a breath is taken like older patients who have whooping cough do.  However, the whooping cough can force infants and adults alike to cough so hard that they throw up or even pass out.  The amount of stress that this cough puts on an infant's tiny body can be deadly to them.  Doctors and scientists recommend that even if a slight cough occurs in infants that parents seek medical attention immediately so that the infant can receive proper treatment in the event that it is whooping cough.  If it isn't treated the infant could develop pneumonia and even seizures.

A couple of years ago a new DTaP vaccine was created and researchers are now realizing that it is not as effective as the old vaccine because patients are becoming infected with whooping cough at an earlier age than they were with the old vaccine.  With the old vaccine a booster shot was to be given to kids around the ages of 11 or 12, but with the new vaccine it is recommended to be administered around 8 or 9 years old.  Adults who frequently come into contact with infants are also advised to get booster shots every few years, so that they are sure to be immune to the bacteria and don't risk getting the infant seriously ill.

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I hope this has shed some light on the sickness and has helped you realize what it actually is.  This is a very serious illness and I would highly recommend that people who are sick in any way, shape, or form stay away from infants because it could lead to a preventable death.  Has anyone had whooping cough recently? Or as a baby? What did you parents do?

2 Comments

I recently read an article that expert government advisers want every pregnant woman to get a whooping cough vaccination. Pregnant women are only advised to have two vaccines: the flu shot and now the whooping cough vaccination.The reason for this is that the nation is on track to have the worst year for whooping cough since the 1950s. According to the, article, the nation is on track to have the worst year for whooping cough since the 1950s. There have been more than 32,000 cases, including 16 deaths, this year.
I think that it is the safest way to protect newborns from getting the whopping cough because, like your blog says, it is deadly to newborns and infants and this could be the best preventable measure.

Is whooping cough bad for people with weakened immune systems as well? Infants can die from it, but what about older people who've lost immunity to it, and immunocompromised people? Could the fact that people are not vaccinating their children due to autism fears be contributing to the high rise in pertussis cases? Are people just forgetting to get their booster shots, which is why people are losing their immunity and getting it?

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