We are starting to see more and more cases of whooping cough being diagnosed in our practice.
Whooping cough, also known as “pertussis” is caused by the bacterium “Bordetella pertussis”. While most cases are mild (especially in those immunised), babies under one year of age are often the most vulnerable to it, often requiring hospitalisation for respiratory support.
The common symptoms of whooping cough, is just that a cough that has a characteristic “whoop” sound. Fever may also be present in the initial few days. Affected kids often have bouts of coughing that intermittently occur and it is not unusual for kids to vomit at the end of one of these coughing bouts. In neonates and infants whooping cough may cause severe respiratory distress.
Testing via a nasal swab for whooping cough is required to confirm a diagnosis of whooping cough, though clinical suspicion is often high.
There is no treatment for whooping cough, however if diagnosed the child and his family are commenced on antibiotics for 5 days to prevent its spread. Exclusion from workplaces, child care centres etc is often also enforced till those five days are over to limit the spread of whooping cough.
Coughing may continue for a few months and whooping cough is often termed the “100 day cough” for that reason.
The best thing you can do for your child is to ensure that they are immunised. Expecting mothers are often encouraged to get vaccinated at 28 weeks gestation for whooping cough. Doing this ensures that your newborn baby has some immunity to whooping cough. Your child will then be given boosters for whooping cough at 2,4,6, 18 and 48 months age. School children will have a booster in year 7 around the age of 12.
We also encourage close family and friends of expecting mothers to get vaccinated for whooping cough. These vaccines usually cover you for a period of 10 years. Some neonatal units will not allow you to enter until you have proof of this vaccination.
The advice provided on healthykid.com.au is of a general nature and in no way should replace your therapeutic relationship with your doctor