Pertussis, which is more known as whooping cough, is considered as one of the most common infections that affect the respiratory system. This condition has afflicted thousands of individuals each year, particularly young children. In the United States, prior to the introduction of a vaccine, pertussis had led to the deaths of more than 5,000 people every year. This figure has been drastically reduced to just less than 30 per year and this is because of the vaccine which targets Bordetella pertussis, the agent that causes pertussis.
However, with the air getting more toxic due to pollution and the food being laced with organisms that could weaken the natural defenses of the human body, the cases of pertussis has again risen in the previous decade. Apparently, an information drive regarding this disease is necessary in order to fight it in the most effective manner.
Causes of Pertussis
The principal culprit behind whooping cough is the bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, and the more unfortunate news is that only humans are its known carriers. A very active micro-organism, this bacterium is easily passed on to anyone through the contact with another who has already been affected by the disease. The uncontrollable coughing which is associated to it normally produces tiny droplets that are coughed out and these contain the bacteria. Once someone with weak immune systems gets into contact with such droplets, it is very likely that he or she would also develop pertussis afterwards. Weak immune system is a favorable condition for the bacteria to thrive within the lungs.
Easily Detected Signs and Symptoms
The most obvious signs that one may have whooping cough or pertussis are not quite different from those of the common colds. These are sneezing, some mild coughing, a runny nose, and in some cases, low fever. It is clear that one may have the tendency to dismiss this condition as just manageable. However, if the condition lasts for more than a week and if the coughing becomes more painful, complemented with a whooping sound, then this may indeed be perstussis already and requires immediate medical attention of a professional.
Vaccination is now considered as the most effective way of preventing pertussis. An individual who has been vaccinated becomes immune to the effects of the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. The immunization against pertussis is included in diphtheria, tetanus, and accellular pertussis or DTaP program. However, there have been instances when the effects of immunization weaken, leaving the individual vulnerable again to pertussis. To prevent this, it is recommended to have immunization shots again.
If there is even a slight suspicion that an individual, especially a child, has contracted pertussis, it is absolutely necessary to see a doctor. Although the disease does not pose an immediate threat, it can worsen if left unattended. The doctor would subject the patient to a series of tests to determine if he or she has really been infected with the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Once conclusive findings are achieved confirming the presence of this bacteria, the doctor would prescribe the necessary medications, particularly antibiotics.