Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Overview
Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial illness that affects the respiratory passages. First described in the 1640s, whooping cough is so named because spasms of coughing are punctuated by a characteristic "whoop" sound when the child inhales deeply after a coughing spell.
- Whooping cough is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases among children younger than 5 years of age in the United States. It is also known as pertussis -- the "P" in the familiar DTaP combination inoculation routinely given to children and the "p" in Tdap given to adolescents and adults.
- Despite the widespread use of vaccines, whooping cough has made a comeback in recent years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prior to the introduction of the pertussis vaccine, there were an average of 175,000 cases of whooping cough each year. This dropped off to fewer than 3,000 cases per year in the 1980s; in the U.S. alone, a total of 48,277 cases of pertussis were reported in 2012, and 24,231 in 2013. In the first six months of 2014, there were 9,964 cases of pertussis reported to the CDC by all 50 states and Washington, D.C., which is a 24% increase compared with the same time period in 2013.
- The World Health Organization estimates there were 195,000 deaths from whooping cough worldwide in 2008 and 139,382 reported deaths in 2011, making this easy-to-prevent disease one of the leading causes of illness and death.
- The prevalence of whooping cough in infants and children is increasing. Most deaths from pertussis occur among infants under 3 months of age. The incidence rate of pertussis among infants is greater than all other age groups. The second highest rates of whooping cough are seen in children 7 to 10 years of age.
- A pertussis epidemic arose in June 2014 in California, and as of November 26, 2014, 9,935 cases of pertussis were reported to the California Department of Public Health.
- States that reported pertussis epidemics in 2012 include Washington (4,783 reported cases), Vermont (632 reported cases), Minnesota (4,433 reported cases), Wisconsin (5,923 reported cases), and Colorado (1,510 cases).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/2/2016
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