Tuesday, April 30, 2019

VIDEO: Whooping Cough: Vaccinating Can Prevent Deadly Childhood Infection

Editor's Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. MeAndMyDoctor.com will post a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured will include: FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesHepatitis A, , Rubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumps, and Tetanus.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

In this short video, C. Mary Healy, MD, a Houston pediatric infectious diseases specialist and Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leader, describes what whooping cough is and, how serious it can be, especially for infants. She also explains the various vaccines recommended to prevent whooping cough.

Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a very contagious, respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Anyone can contract the disease, but infants are the most susceptible, and can even die from it if unprotected. Patients with whooping cough experience violent coughing fits, making a "whoop" sound when gasping for breath between each cough. These coughing fits can last for 100 days, according to Dr. Healy.

Whooping cough cases are still prevalent in the United States, especially in Texas. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas had 1,030 reported pertussis cases in 2018.

The best way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated. Expectant mothers are recommended to get a tetanus-diphtheria-accellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine during pregnancy to avoid passing it onto their newborns.  Newborns can't get the shot until they are 18 months old. The CDC also recommends the "cocoon" strategy, urging all family members and others (aged 11 to 66 years) who come in contact with newborns to get the shot as well. Otherwise it's possible an adolescent or adult with a milder case of whooping cough could unknowingly pass it on to baby – with potentially devastating consequences.

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