ASK, ANSWER, LEARN
My kids were immunized against Pertussis (or whooping cough) years ago, are they protected from the current outbreak?
Mark D. Winton, MD, FACP answered:Pertussis is a serious bacterial disease in infants and children. Once thought largely under control, it is now returning. We now know that immunity wears off in adolescents and young adults, which allows high school students to get ill with pertussis, and spread it to parents, grandparents, and young susceptible children.
In young children, the whooping cough can lead to airway obstruction and death. Infants and young children who have no immunity to pertussis may become critically ill or die. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 50 million cases and 300,000 deaths a year from this illness.Adolescents and young adults do not get a “whoop” sound to their cough; instead they get fever and a dry cough, which may make them hack until they vomit or pass out.
The disease in infants and children has three stages, which may last several weeks to months. After the initial phase, the second phase is characterized by spasms of uncontrollable coughing and the face may turn red or purple. At the end of the coughing, there may by an inspiratory “whoop.” In adults, the disease is known as the “100 day cough.”
Pertussis is very contagious and is on the rise. In 2005 a vaccine became available to protect adolescents. It is now recommended that young adults get a Tdap shot instead of a Td booster. The new pertussis vaccine in the Tdap shot increases the level of protection. It is very safe and will help prevent the pertussis outbreaks now being seen all over the U.S. and other parts of the world. This should help reduce the number of infant deaths that have been seen from whooping cough lately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that immunization reduces the odds of contracting pertussis, especially for children. Children who never received any doses of DTaP vaccine face odds of having whooping cough at least eight times higher than children who received all 5 doses of the vaccine.
I recommend everyone get the Tdap after they have completed the primary series of DTaP. Adults over19 years of age should get a boost of Td every 10 years.
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