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Georgia Students at Risk of Whooping Cough

Atlanta personal injury lawyer blog Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Georgia Students at Risk of Whooping Cough

Parents of students at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw were notified of a student at the school had been diagnosed with pertussis, the bacterial infection more commonly known as the whooping cough.

Several Cobb County elementary schools have also had cases of whooping cough during the last school year. Receiving the vaccination has not been proof against infection as at least some of those infected were vaccinated routinely at a young age.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease which poses the greatest risk to young children who have not completed their series of vaccinations yet, and who suffer more greatly from the symptoms of the disease. Older individuals can also suffer from the disease, as the vaccination is only approximately 85 percent effective, and the booster’s effectiveness diminishes with time.

Many people think of the whooping cough the way they think of polio – a historical childhood illness that no longer poses a risk today, but that is simply not the case. Outbreaks of the disease are not uncommon, affecting more than 25,000 people in 2004 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than in any year since the 1950s.

Being aware of the symptoms can help lead to early detection, and hopefully prevent complications.

In teenagers and adults, complications due to the whooping cough are normally mild, though they can include bruised or even broken ribs, and hernias from the violent coughing fits. In infants, however, complications can be much more severe, ranging from ear infections to pneumonia, to seizures and brain damage.

The symptoms of the whooping cough often start out similar to a severe cold or bronchitis. Early signs include runny nose/nasal congestion, sneezing, a dry cough and a mild fever. These then escalate to violent coughing fits, as many as fifteen coughs in a row, which may bring up phlegm, and fatigue from the exertion of coughing.

The cough itself is responsible for the name of the whooping cough. Coughing may be followed by a wheezing inhalation, which sounds like a whoop. This characteristic whooping may be less apparent in small children.

Children with the whooping cough may choke, which can result in their faces turning red or blue.

If caught early, antibiotics can be prescribed for adults. This can lessen the duration and intensity of the disease. If not caught until after severe coughing fits have begun, antibiotics are less effective, though they may still be prescribed.

Infants with whooping cough should be admitted to the hospital. Today, most infants and toddlers recover from the whooping cough without lasting damage, but as long as the infection lasts, there is a danger of complication, particularly in those under six months old. In the hospital, the young child’s breathing can be monitored, and problems which arise can be treated quickly and specifically. While in the hospital, the child will most likely receive IV antibiotics and drugs to prevent airway inflammation.

Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, or if your child experiences prolonged periods of coughing. Also call your doctor if you or your child has been exposed to the whooping cough, even if they have been vaccinated.

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