What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough is first described in the 1640s, a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In advanced stages, it’s marked a severe, hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop.” Whooping cough is the most common vaccine-preventable disease among children younger than 5 years of age in the United States. It’s spread from person to person through the air in tiny droplets of fluid when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. Infection can occur at any age, but it’s more common in those less than five years old.
In recent years, the data of suffering from whooping cough seems to increase. By 2004, the number of whooping cough cases spiked past 25,000, the highest level it’s been since the 1950s. Whooping cough mainly affects infants younger than 6 months old before they are adequately protected by immunizations.
The World Health Organization estimates there were 195,000 deaths from whooping cough throughout the world in the year of 2008. The CDC, however, estimates 300,000 deaths per year are caused by pertussis. In June 2010, the State of California declared a whooping cough epidemic.
The main symptom is bouts of intense coughing. In between bouts of coughing you can be perfectly well. Sometimes hours go by between bouts of coughing. Whooping cough can be a distressing illness which usually lasts several weeks. Full recovery is usual but serious complications occur in some cases. Whooping cough is uncommon in children in the UK, mainly due to immunization. However, some adults and older children get whooping cough because the effect of whooping cough immunization can wane over time in some people.
It is initially though to be a disease of childhood, recent studies have shown that adults are susceptible to whooping cough and account for up to 25% of cases. But this kind of disease tends to be milder in adults, a persistent cough much like an upper respiratory infection or cold. The reason is the fine distinction, the diagnosis of whooping cough is frequently missed in that population and thus allows the bacteria to spread to more susceptible infants and children.
Whooping cough is fairly easily diagnosed by observing the Whooping cough symptoms and examining a swab taken from the throat or nose for traces of the bacteria. If you suspect whooping cough, or if your child develops an unusual cough that causes vomiting or doesn’t improve after a couple of days, see a doctor. Get urgent medical advice if your child seems particularly unwell, goes blue during coughing or has other worrying symptoms.