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WHAT IS IT?

Pertussis, (whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory bacterial disease. People with pertussis usually spread the disease to another person by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space.  Whooping cough is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which can make breathing very difficult.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

First 1-2 Weeks

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Coughing

After

  • Paroxysms fits of coughs
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion

In Babies

  • Apnea (Trouble breathing)
  • Blue/purple skin

Whooping cough usually lasts 10 weeks. A person is contagious from 1 to 21 days after the cough begins. Whooping cough can be very serious for babies less than a year old. In about 50% of cases of babies less than a year, they may need to be hospitalized to help relieve the symptoms.

HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?

Currently there is a vaccine to prevent whooping cough. The vaccine is the combination DTap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine. The first dose is recommended to children at 2 months, the second dose at 4 months, the third dose at 6 months, the forth dose at 15 to 18 months, and the fifth dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Vaccine protection for these three diseases fades with time.

One dose of Tdap (booster shot) is recommended at 11 or 12 years of age and every 10 years after that. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics but early treatment is important before the coughing fits begin. Treatment of family members can also help prevent spreading the disease.

Pregnant women can be vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy, between weeks 27 to 36 of pregnancy, which helps mothers build antibodies that are transferred to the newborn. It provides protection until the baby starts the DTaP vaccine. Also, ensure everyone around the baby is up-to-date with his/her pertussis vaccines. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends, and babysitters.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

http://dph.georgia.gov/pertussis
http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis

For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Accessed 6/2016
Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Accessed 6/2016