Tag Archives: whooping cough

Whooping In Washington

In Washington state, here in the United States, pertussis (whooping cough) caused nearly 200 campers to be sent home early after whooping cough prompted the YMCA of Greater Seattle to close the overnight camp on the Kitsap Peninsula. This is yet another dangerous example of the rejection of vaccine uptake. The rise of misinformation and alternative medicine has been increasing and the rejection of science-based modern medicine has been gaining momentum. As we know, vaccines work by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease) without actually infecting us with the disease. They trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies, as though the body has been infected with a disease. There have been many factors leading to this decline: a lot of this has to do with celebrities endorsing fallacious claims; Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, for example. All this was due to a former British Gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakfield and his fraudulent study published in the Lancet articles.

The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) is to get vaccinated. There are vaccines for babies, children, preteens, teens, and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults is called Tdap. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease. Initial symptoms are usually similar to those of the common cold with a runny nose, fever, and mild cough, followed by weeks of severe coughing fits. After a fit of coughing, a high-pitched whoop sound or gasp may occur as the person breathes in, and may last for 10 or more weeks, hence the phrase “100-day cough”. A person may cough so hard that they vomit, break ribs, or become very tired from the effort. Children less than one year old may have little or no cough and instead have periods where they do not breathe. Infection in newborns is particularly severe.

Pertussis is fatal in an estimated 1.6% of hospitalized US infants under one year of age. First-year infants are also more likely to develop complications, such as: pneumonia (20%), encephalopathy (0.3%), seizures (1%), failure to thrive, and death (1%) perhaps due to the ability of the bacterium to suppress the immune system. Pertussis can cause severe paroxysm-induced cerebral hypoxia, and 50% of infants admitted to hospital suffer apneas. Reported fatalities from pertussis in infants increased substantially from 1990 to 2010. There is no excuse for these kind of vaccine preventable diseases.