Whooping Cough comeback

By: Stacy McCloud Email
By: Stacy McCloud Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Taking your newborn home from the hospital comes with a laundry list of responsibility. Now a new study wants you to add another item to your checklist.

Whooping cough was serious before the 1940's but a vaccine turned things around, however now it's making a comeback.

Dr. Jacklyn Van Nes, an ObGyn at UT Medical Center, explains what whooping cough is. "Whooping cough is known in the medical community as pertussis. It causes an infectious disease typically seen in children that causes a very specific cough."

Typically, whooping cough is spread by breathing in infected respiratory droplets from an infected person's coughs or sneezes . The early symptoms, which can last up to two weeks, are easy to miss because they are generally mild and resemble those of the common cold.
But with whooping cough, within two weeks symptoms become severe and resemble the symptoms of bronchitis. Those symptoms include: Severe coughing attacks that end with a high-pitched whooping sound when inhaling, thick phlegm, gasping for air and fatigue.

A problem for anyone, but in babies the consequences can be even more serious . In 2004-2005, sixty-six babies under the age of one died from whooping cough, the majority of those were under 3 months old. "As adults if we had it we would have more like an upper respiratory infection. However, in infants it's much more serious respiratory infection and they are more likely to die," says Dr. Van Nes.

Now researchers are saying the best prevention lies in the parents parents, who are being urged to get the vaccine before leaving the hospital. Dr. Van Nes agrees, "Babies don't receive the vaccine, so like i said, those are the ppl more likely to die from the disease so we are preventing by vaccinating new moms."

The whooping cough vaccine's immunity wears off after about 6 to 8 years, so the CDC recommends speaking with your provider and getting a combination shot that prevents the pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria.

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