Whoop it Up: Beat it Down

LaGrange County, Ind., is reporting a rise in patients with whooping cough (pertussis) and an article in the Sept. 13 Journal-Gazette noted a nationwide outbreak due to weak vaccines. Researchers have determined the DTAP vaccine serum loses effectiveness sooner than thought. As a result, there is less immunity in our population.Whooping cough is highly infectious.

How concerned should we be here in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio?

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) national statistics:

27,550 cases for all of 2010
25,000 cases through August 24 of 2012


The cold/flu/respiratory ailment season is just starting. We need to be very concerned.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious, bacterial infection that is particularly serious for infants and young children. Early symptoms in the young are like those of a common cold – runny or stuffed-up nose, sneezing and a mild cough. However, the symptoms become more severe and the coughing fits can lead to gasping, choking and vomiting. This YouTube video, which may be disturbing to some, gives you an idea of the coughing sound of a 22-month old child with pertussis.

Highly infectious means if one person in your household has pertussis, odds are others will get it. Antibiotics are used to treat pertussis.

If you suspect your child has pertussis, call your doctor immediately. If you don’t have a primary care physician, Parkview has a tool on its website to help you Find a Doctor that you are comfortable with.

Go directly to the Emergency Department if your child:

  • Turns blue around the mouth or fingertips;
  • Stops breathing, even for an instant;
  • Has a high fever or seizures;
  • Vomits often, or becomes dehydrated.

According to Dr. Brian Zehr, Pulmonary & Critical Care Intensivist at Parkview, whooping cough is seen in adolescents and adults as well children, though the disease is usually less severe and without the characteristic symptoms seen in children. Instead, the main symptom in adults is usually a prolonged, dry cough. Adult pertussis may not produce the “whooping” sound but you still need to see your doctor for treatment. Depending on when this is started, treatment may not affect symptoms but it can prevent spread of the illness to others

The content of this blog does not substitute for a visit with your physician. 

MedlinePlus. (2012). Whooping Cough. National Library of Medicine. Accessed 9/13/12 at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/whoopingcough.html.

Photo: CDC. Pertussis

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