Lacey Walk in Clinic: General Info on Pertussis, aka Whooping Cough

The Secretary of Health of the state of Washington declared a pertussis epidemic on April 3, 2012, after the number of reported cases reached 640, compared to 94 cases reported in the same time period in 2011. Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” is a respiratory disease caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. After a person becomes infected, it can take from 7 days to a month for pertussis symptoms to develop. The bacteria cause the disease by releasing toxins that lower the lungs’ ability to clear out respiratory secretions (mucus). After an initial period of a low-grade fever and mild cough, the cough becomes severe and occurs in episodes that prevent the patient from breathing properly, so much so that some patients turn blue during the coughing bouts and for a short time after.

Remember the whooping cough epidemic that swept Washington State in 2012? Although the situation has been controlled since then, whooping cough, A.K.A. pertussis, remains a common affliction in young children across the state. As of Sept. 13, 2014, a total of 22 counties have reported pertussis activity. Even if none of your family members have contracted the disease yet, it pays to be prepared. Here is essential information you need to know so you can protect yourself and your family from this malady.


Who’s at risk?

Persons who have not been vaccinated or whose vaccinations are out-of-date are at risk of contracting the disease.

How does it spread?

Pertussis is caused by bacteria and spreads easily. The bacteria that causes the condition is spread by coughing and sneezing, and generally affects the respiratory system.

How is it treated?

Pertussis is mainly treated with antibiotics. To slow the spread of the disease, it’s imperative that treatment starts as early as possible. Early treatment also helps manage the severity of its symptoms. That said, prevention is far and away the best course of treatment for pertussis, so be sure to visit a Lacey walk in clinic and ask about getting vaccinated.

When should you see a doctor?

It’s time to visit a physician at a Lacey walk in clinic if your or your child: (1) experiences lengthy coughing spells accompanied by vomiting, discoloration of the face, and/or the characteristic whooping sound, (2) is suffering from a cold that includes severe and/or prolonged coughing, and (3) has come in contact with someone who is confirmed to have the disease and are currently displaying symptoms.

(Source: Pertussis Epidemic in Washington State, History of Vaccines, May 15, 2012)


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