Interesting Facts About Whooping Cough: Why Vaccination Is Very Important?

Whooping cough also referred to as pertussis, is a serious infection which spreads easily from person to another. It is caused by bacteria which attach themselves to the cilia (tiny hairs) which line the respiratory tract. These bacteria usually produce a potent toxin which inflames the respiratory tract and also prevents the cilia from functioning well.
The disease causes uncontrollable, powerful coughing spells which make it difficult to breathe, sleep, or eat. After severe coughing fits, a person with whooping cough usually needs to take deep breaths that may result in a ‘whooping’ sound.
Whooping cough can lead to hospitalization or even pneumonia and can affect persons of all ages. It can be extremely serious, or even deadly, for babies less than 1-year-old. Common sources of infection in babies are parents, older siblings, and the caregivers. In recent years, as many as twenty babies younger than 1 year old have died from whooping cough every year in the United States.
Actually, whooping cough was the leading cause of death and severe illness among young children and infants until the whooping cough vaccine was introduced in the 1940s. In the 1920s and 1930s, the average of over 160,000 cases and 5,000 deaths were reported every year.
In addition, whooping cough is a potentially fatal infection that is resurgent in the US although it is vaccine-preventable. It has been on the rise in the United States since an all-time low of nearly 1000 cases were reported in 1976.
Nonetheless, several cases go unreported and undiagnosed. Early signs and symptoms of whooping cough are similar to bronchitis or common cold and may include sneezing, runny nose, and occasional or mild cough. Coughing spasms worsen progressively, and can be accompanied by exhaustion and vomiting.
At times a ‘whoop’ sound occurs while gasping for breath after a coughing spell. The coughing spells can last for up to ten weeks or even more. Adults may not have a classic ‘whoop,’ if they have a milder case of this disease.
Whooping cough is surrounded by several myths, like the ones saying which you should drink alcohol when you’re suffering from the disease or others. Today, we will provide six interesting and real facts about whooping cough and its prevention:
1. In 2012, the latest peak year, 48,277 cases of whooping were reported in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but many more cases go unreported and undiagnosed. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the US since 1955 when about 63,000 cases were reported.
2. The best way to prevent whooping is through a vaccination known as DTaP for infants and children and one known as Tdap for pre-teens, teens, and even adults. Protection from the childhood vaccine declines over time.
3. Globally, there are an estimated 16 million cases of whooping cough and nearly 195,000 deaths annually.
4. The ‘cocoon effect’ can help in protecting your baby from whooping cough. In order to protect the most vulnerable, parents should prevent a baby’s exposure to anybody who might have the infection, even a hidden one. The cocoon effect is the perfect way to protect your baby – everyone around them should be vaccinated: the mother during pregnancy, grandparents, parents, siblings, and the healthcare workers.
If you’re going to be around a newborn, ask your physician about getting a whooping cough booster vaccine. Data on present levels of vaccine coverage reveals an urgent need for improvement. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Feb. 6, 2015, a survey of records between 2005 and 2013 found whooping vaccination of adults at only 17%, and healthcare staffs at only 37%.
5. Whooping cough is often treated with antibiotics that are used to control the symptoms and also prevent infected persons from spreading the disease.
6. Adults and teens need whooping booster shots. They require this booster since immunity from the childhood vaccine –DTaP- continues for only approximately 2 years and then fades. As health personnel proves more adults usually get infected, they get a better sense of the defective nature of the present adult vaccination coverage.
Teenagers from 11 to 18 years should get a single Tdap injection (a combined vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough for adults and teens). Adults above 18 years should get one Tdap vaccine if they’ve not before.

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