Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is becoming more prevalent here in the state of Kansas. Just this week alone there have been at least 8 cases in a Riley county. This is not the first episode of whooping cough here in Kansas in the last year. There have been multiple outbreaks, including here in Wichita. In 2010, 91,000 people became ill with whooping cough in California and nine infants died.
Whooping cough is a bacteria that causes a prolonged coughing illness that has a distinct sound that is a “whoop.” It can be deadly especially for infants if it is not diagnosed and treated early. Whooping cough is highly contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing and poor hygiene.
There is a vaccine called TDAP for adults and DTAP for children that can help prevent the spread of this disease. Most children have been vaccinated for this at their regular well child exams. However, the new vaccine for whooping cough just came out in 2005, and not everyone has been vaccinated. The new vaccine is given along with your tetanus shot, although the tetanus shot can also be given alone. To ensure that you receive the proper vaccine, you should request the whooping cough vaccine from your health care provider.
Newborn babies are the most susceptible to whooping cough because their immune systems are low and they don’t get vaccinated until they are 6 weeks old. If the parents have not been vaccinated against whooping cough, they can easily spread it to their infant and this can be detrimental or even deadly. If you are pregnant or expecting, ensure that you and your entire family is up to date on their whooping cough vaccine.