Whooping Cough (Pertussis) (cont.)
Whooping Cough Prevention (Pertussis Vaccine)
- Risk factors for getting whooping cough include exposure to an infected person's cough or sneeze or touching surfaces used by an infected person. Both frequent hand washing and the use of masks will help lessen the likelihood that the bacteria will spread to other members of a household where someone has whooping cough. Also avoid touching your nose or mouth and introducing the bacteria you may have picked up during outbreaks.
- For children, follow the recommended vaccine schedule for the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) inoculations. Shots are given at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years of age for full immunity, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics; however, vaccine immunity generally wanes after six to 10 years and does not result in permanent immunity, which is why a pertussis booster shot is needed.
- In 2005, the U.S. government approved Tdap, the first pertussis booster shot for children 10-18 years of age. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control recommends one dose of Tdap in place of one Td booster.
- For adults 19 and older, the ACIP recommends a single dose of Tdap.
- If you have never received a dose of Tdap, one dose of Tdap should replace one dose of Td for booster immunization if the most recent tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine was received at least 10 years earlier.
- Adults over 19 years of age in close contact with, or anticipating contact with, infants aged 12 months or younger or with pregnant women, who have not previously received Tdap should receive a dose of Tdap; an interval as short as two years since the most recent Td is suggested.
- Health-care personnel in settings with direct patient contact who have not previously received Tdap should receive a dose of Tdap; an interval as short as two years since the most recent Td is recommended.
- The CDC recommends pregnant women receive Tdap before pregnancy. Recommendations in 2011 from the CDC add that pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap should get one dose of Tdap during the third trimester or late second trimester -- or immediately postpartum, before leaving the hospital or birthing center.
- The vaccine side effects are mild but can include tenderness, redness, or a lump at the site of the injection, and fever.
What is the prognosis for whooping cough?
Complications of whooping cough are most commonly seen in children younger than 1 year of age, with an increased risk of severe whooping cough in premature infants.
- Between 1999-2003, 17,000 children under 2 years of age diagnosed with whooping cough required hospitalization.
- More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized.
- In 2012, 18 deaths due to whooping cough were reported by the CDC; the majority of them were infants under 3 months of age.
- Bacterial pneumonia is the most common complication of whooping cough. It is also the most common cause of pertussis-related deaths. The CDC estimates about one in five infants with pertussis get pneumonia (lung infection).
- Other complications include bluish skin from lack of oxygen, collapse of a lung, sinusitis, otitis media (ear infection), dehydration, nosebleed, bruising, hernias, retinal detachment, rectal prolapse, seizures, diseases of the brain, and failure to thrive.
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy 2005
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United States. Washington State Department of Health. "Whooping Cough Case Count Passes 1,000 Cases in WA -- Epidemic Continues." Apr. 24, 2012. <http://www.doh.wa.gov/Publicat/2012_news/12-045.htm>.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2016
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