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Whooping Cough aka Pertussis

Whooping Cough aka Pertussis

What is Pertussis?

It is a respiratory infection that is also known as Whooping Cough due to the characteristic sound of a whoop after a coughing attack when trying to breathe in.

How is Pertussis spread?

Pertussis is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. Pertussis is VERY contagious.

Why do I care?

Though the incidence of whooping cough has gone down significantly since the 1940s when the vaccine was first made, there have been several outbreaks recently in different parts of the country including Washington State. This infection can be very serious and send people to the hospital and can even lead to death. Infants are especially at risk for this infection and cannot be vaccinated right away, so it is recommended that anyone that comes into contact with infants (daycare workers, healthcare workers, moms/dads/grandparents/etc.) all get vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to contact with a new baby.

How do I prevent Pertussis?

Get vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control recommends that every adult get a onetime booster dose of Tdap (a tetanus shot with pertussis vaccine in it) to help protect you and others from getting pertussis. Children are vaccinated against it in their DTaP series which is part of their routine vaccines. Pregnant women are recommended to get a Tdap vaccine with each and every pregnancy, so ask your OBGYN for more information.

What happens if I get Pertussis?

The infection itself can take weeks to months to completely resolve. If you are diagnosed with the infection within the first 3 weeks then an antibiotic can help to treat.