Whooping Cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that often goes unrecognized. Incidences have steadily increased since 2007. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) believes this is due to increased awareness, access to lab tests and improved surveillance and reporting of pertussis. The most common outbreaks occur in day care settings, schools, work places and health care facilities.
Drs. Schmitt and Thompson explain that infants pose the greatest risk of complications as 50% of infants younger than 12 months with pertussis are hospitalized. Whooping cough occurs in three phases starting with runny nose and dry cough with symptoms similar to viral upper respiratory infection and then over 2-6 weeks the cough can worsen. If antibiotics are used within 1-2 weeks symptoms will be reduced but if started later they will not help.
Immunization for pertussis begins in infancy and TdaP vaccination should routinely be given to adolescents as a single dose. Adults should also get TdaP if they never had it in the past.