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WHOOPING COUGH (PERTUSSIS) Whooping cough is…a highly contagious bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system, resulting in severe coughing spells. It is easily spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. Whooping cough symptoms…begin 1 to 2 weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms usually last 6 to 10 weeks and can occur in three stages. Stage 1 - Begins with cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. Stage 2 – Cold-like symptoms fade, but the cough gets worse. The cough will change from a dry, hacking cough to bursts of uncontrollable, violent coughing with vomiting and gagging. Coughing may become worse at night. Between coughing spells, the infected person often appears normal. Stage 3 – Infected person will improve and gain strength, but cough may become louder and sound worse. Whooping cough can…cause complications that may be severe. It can be a critical illness in children younger than 1 year of age, especially in premature babies or those with lung disease. Adults, as well as children, are susceptible to whooping cough. Whooping cough is treated by…antibiotics, to prevent the spread of infection. Over-the-counter medicines have not been shown to help relieve symptoms. People in close contact with infected person usually need to be treated with antibiotics. Efforts should be taken to minimize an infant’s exposure to children and adults with cough illness. Whooping cough is prevented by…keeping immunizations up to date. Children should receive Pertussis vaccine at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months of age and a booster dose at 4 to 6 years of age. The routine immunizations DTaP(for children) and Tdap (for adolescents and adults) protect against whooping cough. It is also helpful to wash your hands frequently and keep children away from people who have a bad cough. Adults with routine contact with infants less than 12 months of age should receive a booster dose. For additional information, please visit www.tazewellhealth.org, www.cdc.gov/pertussis or www.idph.state.il.us. 8/2010
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