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Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
One out of two babies who get whooping cough before the age of one needs to be hospitalized.
The disease is passed through droplets from person to person by coughing or sneezing or when sharing the same breathing space for an extended period of time.
Early symptoms include runny nose, low-grade fever, coughing, and sneezing that can last up to 2 weeks. The early symptoms resemble those of a common cold. After one to two weeks, bouts of uncontrollable coughing lasting several minutes may occur. The person is forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound as the lungs are already emptied of air. Sometimes the coughing is so severe that it may lead to vomiting and tiredness. The cough may last for many months.
Pertussis can be fatal in rare cases. Infants are particularly at risk of complications such as pneumonia and kidney damage. In rare cases, a disruption of breathing may pose a risk of brain damage in very young babies.
Practicing good hygiene can limit the spread of respiratory droplets such as:
Washing hands often with soap and water
Covering mouth and nose
Avoiding close personal contact or living in dormitories or other shared environments with people who show respiratory symptoms
The pertussis vaccine is formulated with Tetanus and Diphtheria (also known as Tdap) for adults. It is also in combination with other routine childhood vaccines and is given to children as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule. It is recommended that every adult receive a booster if they were immunized in childhood. Travellers should be immunized against pertussis prior to travelling regardless of the timing of their last Tetanus/Diphtheria vaccine (Td ) to ensure full protection against whooping cough.