An ailment is reappearing after being silent for almost 50 years.
Pertussis, or whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that is making somewhat of a comeback in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control reports the number of whooping cough cases in the U.S. is on track to be the highest in 50 years.
Dr. Johanna Goldfarb specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and says it affects both children and adults.
"It often begins with lots of congestion and phlegm and it’s a cough that just doesn’t seem to go away. Sometimes in a school-aged child there’s a particular cough, such that a nurse or a physician familiar with it will tell from across the room that the child probably has whooping cough. it’s a cough, cough, cough, and a whoop to catch your breath."
Any bout with whooping cough is usually prolonged. It can start with a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing, but the symptoms will worsen over time. In school-aged children and adults it can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain or even seizures, but it’s rare.
Dr. Goldfarb says the bigger concern is when a newborn contracts the infection.
"When an infant in the first months of life gets whooping cough, it is a life-threatening infection. many of those babies die. And, if they don’t die, they’re likely to spend many weeks, even months in an intensive care unit recovering."
Your best defense against whooping cough is to get vaccinated.