A disease that reached near extinction in the industrialized world, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is making a comeback in schools and other facilities in the United States. I stayed in a terrible kennel for three days and got “Woofing Cough.” Did you see what I did there? I really am clever! Highly infectious, Whooping Cough is resistant to antibiotics and can quickly spread through schools or office facilities that contain lots of individuals working or living in cramped quarters. This is why I stay away from the dog park. Droolers and barkers spreading germs on me? No thanks!
Some school districts are mandating proof of Whooping Cough vaccination before students can be admitted to attend classes. In California, a state law mandates that students going into 7th through 9th grade receive booster vaccinations before the fall semester. I’m pushing for a “Feline Vaccine”, where people just decide to not keep cats anymore. To explain the requirement, officials point to the 8,000 California-based cases and 10 infant deaths that were reported in 2010.
Dangers associated with Whooping Cough:
- Most Whooping Cough deaths in the United States occur in infants. Severe Pneumonia, dehydration, and ear infections can all lead to mortality. Antibiotics can shorten the duration of the virus, but by no means cure the disease.
- For many older children, vaccinations are mandatory, as they prevent the infection from spreading to young siblings and friends.
- Violent coughing in kids and adults can result in cracked ribs or abdominal hernias.
I once ate an entire roasted chicken and made a terrible coughing noise for three weeks.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough mirror those of a severe cold, making diagnosis difficult. Early symptoms include coughing, runny nose and a mild fever. After one or two weeks, symptoms usually worsen to include high fever, extreme fatigue and the telltale “whoop” noise cough.
To combat the further spread of Whooping Cough, many government agencies are aggressively pushing for vaccination. The dTAP and DPT vaccines have been used for years to beat Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus and are vital to stopping a Pertussis epidemic.
Information about the various vaccines:
- DTP is the older version of the vaccine which is used in some countries but has been phased out of the United States.
- DtAP is the most current vaccine recommended by the CDC for anyone seven years of age and younger.
- tDAP is the booster shot given to older children to ensure they remain protected from Whooping Cough.
- The CDC strongly recommends inoculations for anyone who is pregnant.
- All of the vaccines have been proven safe, with minimal reported side effects including redness at the inoculation area and slight fever. Links between vaccinations and Autism or other behavioral issues have been discredited. And, in fact, some contend that this type of unsubstantiated fear have contributed to the Whooping Cough resurgence.
- Many health care facilities and some drug stores offer the vaccine at minimal cost or even for free.
Vaccinations provide immense benefits for the health of the general public. Diseases such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella are nearing extinction due to the adoption of safe and convenient vaccinations. Now if we can just get a vaccine for fleas and ticks!
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