What is the Meaning & Definition of pertussis

Whooping cough is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium, the Bordetella pertussis. From the medical point of view, this disease is considered epidemic, in the sense that it is a medical condition widely extended in the whole of the population. A peculiarity of this disease-causing bacteria is its variation time, resulting in periodic endemic outbreaks. The time which elapses dede exposure to this bacterium to the development of symptoms is estimated between three and 15 days.
Experts indicate that the most vulnerable are children under a year, elderly people and pregnant women. On the other hand, in recent years the incidence of pertussis has increased in adults.

Symptoms and transmission

The symptoms of whooping cough are as follows: very intense or whooping cough for several weeks, accompanied by sneezing, mild fever and runny nose. Sometimes cough presents a sharp whistle accompanied by vomiting and spasm. In principle, the symptoms are similar to a common cold, but if it is not treated properly it can lead to acute pneumonia.
It is usually transmitted to people by direct infection through contact with nasal secretions or throat. It should take into account that pertussis is especially contagious.


The vaccine is the most effective preventive treatment, but it does not guarantee an absolute immunity. Whooping cough (known by its acronym Tdap) vaccine is administered from the 1940s and at present medical authorities recommend that you administer between 15 and 18 months and subsequently every two years until the age of 6 years. The vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women, because in this way, children will be more protected against the disease.
On the other hand, doctors advise to administer macrolides (e.g., the erictromicina) in the first phase of the disease and later bronchodilators or steroids. In terms of the dose of the medication depend on, logically, the age of the patient. This pathology specialists consider that it is useful to consider treatments that is to complement, e.g. oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation along with medication.
As for measures to prevent whooping cough, the most important is proper hygiene (especially in the washing of hands) and respect the infant immunization schedule.
Image: iStock. baona
Article contributed by the team of collaborators.

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