This letter is written to increase your awareness of pertussis (whooping cough) and to help identify measures that you can take to prevent the spread of respiratory infections in general. The focus,as with all communicable diseases, is not WHO has the illness but on what you can do to be alert to the signs and symptoms, and to prevent contracting pertussis.
Pertussis is a bacterial infection which is spread by airborne droplet during coughs and sneezes. It generally begins as a mild upper respiratory infection with symptoms including sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within generally two weeks the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by fits of coughing followed by a high pitched whoop. Pertussis can occur at any age but is most common in children under five, Treatment with antibiotics can shorten the contagious period.
Measures to prevent the spread of pertussis includes covering your mouth and nose with coughs and sneezes, followed by hand washing. Wash your hand after blowing or wiping your nose. Wash your hand before you touch your own hand or nose. Stay home when you feel ill.
Your physician would be happy to address any concerns that you might have about medical issues with your children. Excellent web references for pertussis can be found at WebMD, www.kidshealth.org or on the American Academy of Pediatrics site.