PERTUSSIS (WHOOPING COUGH)
Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough, is an highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection. It only occurs in humans. Even though the average age of cases is over 6 years old, 10-15% of all pertussis cases in infants under 6 months old occur, and over 90% of deaths occur in this age group.
90% of the cases of Pertussis occur in low and middle income countries. In Nigeria, the disease is often immunized against between the ages of 6 and 14 weeks, leaving these newborns and babies essentially unprotected, particularly if exposed before and during this time.
Whooping cough is caused by bacteria known as Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis. These bacteria release toxins which damage the cilia and cause the airways to swell. Pertussis spreads easily from person-to-person through cough and sneeze droplets from infected individuals.
Symptoms of whooping cough begins within 5 -10 days of exposure. Meanwhile, it sometimes takes up to 3 weeks before symptoms are noticed. The symptoms starts with mild fever, running nose and mild cough. It then develops into severe cough, whooping, apnea, breathing difficulty, vomitting and weight loss.
The complications of Pertussis are pneumonia, seizures, brain disease, apnea, convulsions, encephalopathy and death.
Pertussis is diagnosed with Full Blood Count, Microscopy, Culture and PCR screening of Nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample.
Prescribed medications are effective in treatment. Moreover, early treatment prevents death. To prevent Pertussis, DTP3 vaccine must be given to children and pregnant women. Also, good hygiene must be practiced and irritants must be kept away from children. Preventive or post-exposure antibiotics can also protect against pertussis
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