More about Pertussis and ITS Prevention

Cause

Pertussis is an acute infectious disease caused by Bordetella Pertussis.

Impact

India ranks # 1 in the number of Pertussis cases reported worldwide. Pertussis in school going children leads to loss of schooldays which may extend up to 1 week.

Prevention

Avoiding close contact with infected persons,hand hygiene, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and Vaccination can help prevent the disease.

Age of vaccination

For infants, pertussis vaccination starts from 6 weeks of age. Additional vaccination may be required as adolescents, adults and during pregnancy. Consult your doctor for more information on pertussis vaccination.

What is pertussis?

  • Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection.
  • Pertussis is known to cause uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard for the patient to breathe.
    After a prolonged bout of cough, children with Pertussis often need to take a deep breath which results in a "whoop” sound.
  • Pertussis in young infants can be severe and at times, fatal.

What are the symptoms of pertussis?

Symptoms vary according to age groups.

  • Classically, children present with fits of rapid and hard coughs followed by a gasping breath which makes a “whoop” sound. Children may vomit and feel exhausted after such fits of cough.
  • Young infants may not have such coughs or whoops. They may gasp for breath and turn blue. They could have trouble feeding or sleeping due to the coughing fits.
  • Adolescents and adults usually have a prolonged (>3 weeks) coughing illness without the whoop.

What can be the complications due to pertussis?

Complications also vary with age. The most frequent complication observed in children is pneumonia.

Young infants usually need hospitalization and are at higher risk for pertussis related complications like pneumonia, poor weight gain and seizures.

Adults and adolescents can have complications like difficulty in sleeping, urinary incontinence, pneumonia, rib fracture.

How does pertussis spread?

  • Pertussis spreads from person to person, through airborne droplets in coughs and sneezes.
  • It can spread easily in situations where people are in close contact, such as at home or in school.
  • It is highly contagious. It has been estimated that 1 infected person can spread the disease to 11-17 unvaccinated people.
  • Persons with mild disease may transmit infection to susceptible persons including unimmunized or incompletely immunized infants.

Who is at risk of pertussis?

  • Pertussis affects people of all ages. Young infants (Less than 2 months of age) are most at risk of pertussis-associated complications and death.

Who is most likely to spread pertussis to my baby?

  • Many newborns get whooping cough from older brothers or sisters, parents (especially mothers), other family members, or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Why is my newborn baby vulnerable?

  • Newborns and young infants under 2 months of age are at highest risk of serious complications.
  • Newborn babies have inadequate natural protection against whooping cough at birth or in the first few months of life, leaving them unprotected and highly vulnerable.
  • Many newborns get whooping cough from parents (especially mothers) and other family members.

How do I protect my child from pertussis?

  • Avoiding close contact with infected persons.
  • Hand hygiene.
  • "Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing"
  • Vaccination:
    • Infants pertussis vaccination starts from 6 weeks of age.
    • Additional vaccination may be required as adolescents, adults and during pregnancy
    • Please consult your pediatrician / physician / gynecologists for more information on vaccination.
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