April 11, 2012 / Michael M. Siegel, MD
We continue to hear about whooping cough (also known as pertussis) and the dangers of the disease. Outbreaks of the infection continue to occur across the county throughout the year; most recently, the state of Washington has reached epidemic levels of whooping cough cases with over 640 cases so far this year. To put this in perspective, during the same period last year, there were just 94 cases in that state.
Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for babies under a year of age and especially for those infants too young to get the vaccine. Many adults don’t realize that it is also important for themselves to get vaccinated. The best way to protect an infant is to build a cocoon around them, meaning the adults and children who are most often in contact with the baby are all vaccinated to reduce the child’s risk of contracting whooping cough.
If you needed more motivation to get your whooping cough vaccine, consider the fact that the disease can last up to 3 months and lead to hospitalization, most commonly in children under a year of age. We’d all like to avoid that, right? So, if you haven’t already, please go get your whooping cough vaccine. If not for your own ribs, do it for the babies!
The Centers for Disease Control is a great resource for further information.