Thursday, February 24, 2011

Whooping Cough

Anyone who has worked on their family history with family in the U.S. at the turn of the last century is familiar with the disease, pertussis, or whooping cough, a highly contagious, sometimes deadly bacterial disease.

During the late 1800s and into the middle of the 20th century pertussis accounted for the deaths of thousands of Americans, mostly children. In the 1940s, the pertussis vaccine, combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DTP), was introduced and by 1976, the incidence of whooping cough in the U.S. had decreased by over 99%.

Sadly pertussis has been on the rise of late. In 2005, 25,616 cases were reported according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health agencies and the media have been sounding the call warning parents and other care givers to be aware of the renewed threat of this disease.

Symptoms for whooping cough are initially mild, and then develop into severe coughing fits, which produce the namesake high-pitched "whoop" sound in infected babies and children when they inhale air after coughing. Anyone displaying these symptoms should seek medical assistance immediately.

Whooping cough commonly affects infants and young children but can be prevented by immunization with pertussis vaccine. Pertussis vaccine is most commonly given in combination with the vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus.

Below are resources on pertussis from government, organizational and news media resources.


Whooping Cough - Pertussis (US CDC)

Whooping Cough - Pertussis (KDHE)
(A printable pamphlet available from the Kansas Dept of Health and Environment)

Whooping Cough (Medline Plus)


Kansas Immunization Program (KDHE)

"Adults Need Vaccines Too" (KDHE)
(News release from the Kansas Dept of Health and Environment)

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccine
( commercial site)


"21,000 Had Whooping Cough Last Year, CDC Says" (Wichita Eagle)

"Pertussis, Whooping Cough, Is Back" (WIBW News)

Whooping Cough (CNN news)

Breaking Down Whooping Cough (CNN news)

Article contact: Bill Sowers
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