Pertussis, also known as "Whooping Cough", is a highly contagious, respiratory illness caused by the bacterium Bortedella pertussis. Several cases of pertussis have been identified in school-aged children in Jefferson County this year.
Knowing the symptoms of pertussis is an important step towards identifying and treating this illness in a timely manner. Early identification and treatment can reduce transmission to other people. Pertussis can look like an ordinary cold at first, but can quickly develop into a more severe and sometimes life-threatening illness, particularly for infants. After the initial "cold-like" phase of Whooping Cough, a person can develop fits of coughing so severe that they may vomit. During these fits a person can experience many rapid, back-to-back coughs until all of the air in their lungs is gone. Afterwards, they may quickly suck in air creating a high-pitched "whoop" sound. Teens and adults who have been previously vaccinated may have less severe illness and may not produce the "whoop" sound after a coughing fit. Pertussis is often spread by an ill person who coughs or sneezes while in close contact to another person. That person may then breathe in those droplets that are produced by the counghing and sneezing.
The very best way to prevent pertussis from spreading is to get vaccinated! The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both vaccines protect against pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria. To learn more about the symptoms of pertussis or more about pertussis immunizations, please visit the links below: