Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Facts About Pertussis
Whooping cough (also called pertussis), is a serious infection that spreads easily from person to person. The infection causes coughing spells that are so severe that it can be hard to breathe, eat, or sleep. Whooping cough can even lead to cracked ribs, pneumonia, or hospitalization. In the past, whooping cough was largely kept at bay by infant and childhood immunization. It is now known that protection from childhood whooping cough vaccination wears off by the teen years. Adolescents and adults are at risk for the infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worldwide, there are an estimated 16 million cases of pertussis and about 195,000 deaths per year. Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the US.
CDC recommends that adults and adolescents receive one dose of a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine to protect against whooping cough, as a substitute for the Td (tetanus-diphtheria) booster recommended every 10 years. This is especially important for those in contact with infants younger than 12 months of age. Vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap during every pregnancy is especially important to help protect infants.
Whooping cough can be:
- Spread before symptoms appear.
- Passed to vulnerable infants, those who have not yet received any or all of their vaccines. For babies, complications can be severe, even deadly.
- Tough to diagnose because early symptoms may appear like the common cold or bronchitis. The classic symptom is a "whoop," the sound of someone gasping for breath during a bad coughing spell. But you can have the infection without the "whoop."
This serious infectious disease is on the rise in the United States, across all age groups.
Protection against whooping cough from early childhood vaccines wears off. Adolescents and adults are at risk for infection.
Whooping cough causes coughing spells that can affect breathing, eating and sleeping. The infection can even lead to cracked ribs and hospitalization.
Adults and adolescents can spread whooping cough to young infants who have not had all their vaccines. Babies are at greatest risk for serious complications, even death.
Two booster vaccines for whooping cough are now available. One can be used for adults and adolescents. The other has been approved for adolescents only.
Learn about pertussis and the vaccine to prevent it in adolescents at adolescentvaccination.org
, and pregnant women and adults at adultvaccination.org