Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough, is a severe cough which primarily strikes infants and young children when they become infected with the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis. The infection can also appear in older children and adults, though at this stage, the symptoms are generally milder.
What are the symptoms of pertussis?
Although the incubation period of this infection can be as long as 21 days, the first symptoms can begin within a day or two of infection, and usually resemble the early symptoms of a common cold. They can include:
- Sore throat and slightly raised temperature
- Runny or blocked nose
- Watering eyes
- Dry, irritating cough
These symptoms can last as long as a week before becoming more severe. Second-stage symptoms of Pertussis feature severe bouts of coughing, sometimes called “Paroxysms” as many as 12 to 15 times a day, (though this varies), and are characterised by:
- Intense bouts of coughing, bringing up thick phlegm
- Vomiting after coughing, especially in infants and young children
- A “whoop” sound accompanying a sharp intake of breath after a bout of coughing
- Tiredness and redness in the face after coughing.
The second stage can last as much as a month or more after treatment, because the cough will remain in the body after the bacterium has cleared.
How to minimise the risk of pertussis in my child?
Pertussis can be rapidly spread through a family, since in its early stages, the infection appears to be a normal cold, and precautions may not be taken to “cocoon” a baby who is too young to be vaccinated as yet. If the parent or main caregiver has not been vaccinated, and contracts the disease, the infant is at risk. 90% of deaths associated with Pertussis occur among babies less than one year of age.
The majority of cases occur when a person carrying Pertussis coughs or sneezes close to an unvaccinated person of any age. If you have any of the symptoms listed earlier, cover your mouth when sneezing, or coughing, and wash your hands frequently to avoid transmitting the droplets.
Keep your baby and young child safe with full immunisation, and take care to update your vaccination.
Pertussis Vaccine and Side Effects
The DTaP Vaccine, which is administered to babies approx. 2 months of age, and young children (up to 7 yrs) as part of the Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis immunisation, is considered very safe. Side effects are mild, and can include:
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
- Slight fever in about 25% of children
- Soreness or tenderness at the injection site
The Tdap Vaccine, given to adults, also protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis and can be given at any time of year. If you are planning to travel soon, please contact our Travel Clinic to arrange an appointment for a booster shot of this vaccine.
Regions where the pertussis vaccine is required
Pertussis is a worldwide threat to children and adults of all ages, no matter where, and, according to recent statistics, cases are on the increase.
When should I get vaccinated?
Plan to have a vaccination no less than 6 weeks before your departure so that the vaccine has enough time to become effective.
Want to book a rabies inoculation? Perhaps you’d just like to talk about the risks or find out more first. Either way it’s quick and easy to book an appointment either on the phone or online. Call 020 7112 5198 to speak with a friendly, experienced team member.