Pertussis (whooping cough) spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. The number of reported whooping cough cases continue to rise in our state. On April 3, 2012, the Secretary of Health declared a statewide epidemic of pertussis.
Symptoms of pertussis vary depending on age.
Infants with pertussis may have trouble feeding and breathing and may turn bluish. Many infants are unable to even cough. The disease is most serious in infants, especially those not fully protected or too young to get the vaccine.
Babies and young kids:
Babies older than six months and kids with pertussis can have severe coughing spells that make it hard to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep. At this age, the cough is often followed by a “whooping” sound, which is how the disease got its common name. Kids may also vomit after a long coughing spell. Whooping cough can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.
Babies with whooping cough are often hospitalized.
Older kids and adults:
With older kids and adults, the disease can be quite mild or can cause several weeks of exhausting coughing. Babies usually get whooping cough from caregivers or family members who don’t realize they have the disease, like older brothers and sisters, parents, and grandparents. Research shows that it’s most common for moms to pass on the disease to babies.
How to protect infants and young kids:
Anyone with a persistent cough, especially if it includes fits of coughing or causes vomiting, should seek medical care. There is a vaccine to prevent pertussis in older kids and adults called Tdap. All pre-teens, teens, and adults should get the vaccine, especially those in contact with babies. The vaccine can help stop the spread of the disease to babies.
Anyone with a cough should avoid being around infants. Not all coughs are whooping cough, but without testing, it’s better to avoid the possible spread. If it’s not possible to avoid being around infants, cough into a tissue, then wash your hands thoroughly, or wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Age Groups at Risk: All
- Pertussis (Department of Health)
- 2012 Weekly Pertussis Update (PDF, 406KB) (Department of Health)
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Whooping Cough Flyer for Pregnant Women (Public Health–Seattle & King County)
- Ages birth to seven: DTaP or DT Vaccine
- Kids should be immunized in the first 18 months of life with a four-shot series of the combination vaccine, DTaP. It includes diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Kids who get all four doses before their fourth birthday should get a fifth dose before starting kindergarten or elementary school. The fifth dose isn’t necessary if the fourth dose was given on or after the fourth birthday. This combination vaccine is not given to people over age seven.
DT vaccine is available for kids under seven who can’t tolerate the pertussis (whooping cough) component.
Ages 7-10: Tdap Vaccine
- Kids aged 7-10 years who aren’t fully immunized against pertussis (such as, those who didn’t complete a series of pertussis-containing vaccine before their seventh birthday) should get a one-time dose of Tdap vaccine.
Ages 10 and up: Tdap or Td Vaccine
- One dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended for adolescents aged 11 or 12 years in place of one Td booster. Kids at least 11 years old are required to show proof of Tdap vaccination. One dose of Tdap vaccine is also recommended for older adolescents aged 13-18 years and adults aged 19 through 64 years.
- Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Multiple Vaccines (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- For patients getting Pediarix, please review the Vaccine Information Statements for DTaP, Hepatitis B, and IPV
- Td/Tdap (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
For the latest information on infectious disease, I recommend checking out the website for the Centers of Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/