WHOOPING COUGH (Pertussis)
WHOOPING COUGH (Pertussis)
DESCRIPTIONWhooping cough is a serious contagious bacterial infection of the bronchial tubes and lungs. Immunization throughout the world has greatly decreased the incidence of whooping cough. The bronchial tubes, larynx, and lungs are involved. Whooping cough can affect all ages but is most common in children.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization with intensive care for severely ill infants. Older children can usually be treated at home.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSRunny nose.
Dry cough that progresses to a cough with thick sputum.
Severe, continual coughing bouts that last up to a minute. The child's face turns red or blue from lack of oxygen while coughing. At the end of each coughing effort, the child gasps for breath with a "whooping" sound.
Vomiting and diarrhea.
Infection with bordetella pertussis bacteria. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with a contagious person, or by indirect contact, such as breathing air containing infected droplets or handling linen or other contaminated articles. The incubation period is 5 to 7 days.
RISK FACTORSNon-immunized populations.
Epidemics in late winter or early spring. The bacteria become more virulent as they spread.
Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEObtain immunizations against whooping cough for your child. Immunizations normally begin at 2 months. See Appendix 1 for an immunization schedule.
MEDICAL TESTSYour own observation of symptoms; medical history and physical exam by a doctor; laboratory studies, such as culture of the sputum and fluorescent antibody studies (See Glossary); X-rays of the chest.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSNosebleeds; retinal detachment; seizures and encephalitis; pneumonia; apnea (slowed or stopped breathing); middle-ear infection; ruptured blood vessels in the child's brain; death in its most severe form.
Usually curable in about 6 weeks with treatment. The usual course of illness is 2 weeks with an ordinary cough, bouts of the characteristic "whooping" cough, and 2 weeks for convalescence. Some persistent cough may continue for months.
Isolate your child until the fever disappears. Necessary visitors should wear masks.
During a coughing bout in a baby, raise the foot of the crib. Place the baby face down with the head turned to one side to help drain the lungs. Older children usually prefer to sit up and lean forward during coughing bouts.
Use a cool-mist humidifier to soothe the child's cough and help loosen bronchial and lung secretions.
MEDICATIONDon't give your child cough medicine unless your doctor prescribes it.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for complications, such as middle-ear infection or pneumonia.
Keep the child in bed until the fever disappears. Normal activity should be resumed slowly, as the child's strength returns.
DIET & FLUIDSEncourage the child to drink extra fluids, such as fruit juice, tea, carbonated drinks, and bouillon.
No special diet. Small, frequent meals may decrease vomiting.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has signs of whooping cough, especially blueness of the face with coughing bouts.
Fever rises to 103F (39.4C).
Vomiting persists more than 1 or 2 days.