Pertussis, often called whooping cough, is caused by a bacterial infection and it is a highly contagious illness that spreads easily from one person to another through airborne germs from the nose and throat. Some of the common symptoms of Pertussis include common cold, runny nose, low-grade fever, tiredness, and a mild cough.
HOW IS PERTUSSIS DIAGNOSED?
The initial diagnosis is most often based on the symptoms. However, when the symptoms are not obvious, pertussis may be hard to diagnose. In very young infants, the symptoms may be caused by pneumonia instead. To know for sure, the health care provider may take a sample of mucus from the nasal secretions. The sample is sent to a lab and tested for pertussis. While this can offer an accurate diagnosis, the test takes some time. Most of the time, treatment is started before the results are ready. Some people may have a complete blood count that shows large numbers of lymphocytes.
HOW IS PERTUSSIS TREATED?
Antibiotics such as erythromycin can make the symptoms go away more quickly. Unfortunately, most people are diagnosed to late, when antibiotics aren't very effective. However, the medicines can help reduce the person's ability to spread the disease to others. Infants younger than 18 months need constant supervision because their breathing may temporarily stop during coughing spells. Infants with severe cases should be hospitalized. An oxygen tent with high humidity may be used. Fluids may be given through a vein if coughing spells are severe enough to prevent the person from drinking enough fluids. Sedatives (medicines to make you sleepy) may be prescribed for young children. Cough mixtures, expectorants, and suppressants are most often not helpful.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pertussis is highly contagious, so infants with the disease are hospitalized for treatment