Whooping cough also known as Pertussis is an acute contagious respiratory disease, it is caused by bacterium Bordetella pertussis that secrete a toxin (poison) into the trachea (windpipe) and lungs, causing inflammation and accumulation of thick mucus inside the airways which causes uncontrollable coughing.
Whooping cough is characterized by spasmodic episodes of coughing, each of which ends in loud, harsh whoop as the patient inhales through the mouth, its name (whooping cough) came from the noise the patient make when they take a breath after they cough.
Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is more common in infants and children. It’s especially dangerous in infants.
Whooping cough is transmitted by airborne bacteria, spread by infected persons during coughing spells. Although most children recover (the disease usually lasts six weeks), those under six months have a high mortality rate. Death usually results from asphyxiation or complication such as cerebral hemorrhage or pneumonia.
Whooping Cough or Pertussis Symptoms:
- Initial symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after exposure, symptoms includes; sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, loss of appetite, dry cough, mild fever
- After 2 weeks coughing becomes more severe (coughing with phlegm and with a whoop sound); it is followed by choking spell or vomiting. Coughing may be worse at night.
Whooping Cough or Pertussis Treatment: There is no specific treatment for whooping cough, but treatment with antibiotics may help if given early, antibiotics are often used to help reduce the spread of the disease to others as well as treat secondary infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and inner ear infections.
Prevention: There are fewer cases of whooping cough today because most mothers are becoming aware of the importance of routine immunization during childhood. There are both pertussis-only vaccines and combination vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (DPT).