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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Whooping Cough

"We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough." - Henry David Thoreau
Many years ago my sister lived in Watertown, NY, on the north-western edge of the state near the Canadian border. I'm glad she's not living there now since this region is experiencing an epidemic of Whooping Cough with some 300 cases to date.

Whooping cough, formally called Pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. It is spread through the air by tiny droplets when a patient coughs or sneezes. The coughing is extreme and can make it hard to breathe; often a deep "whooping" sound is heard when trying to take a breath. It is a serious disease and the infection usually lasts 6 weeks.

Pertussis used to kill 5,000 to 10,000 people (usually children & infants) in the United States each year. Now, a vaccine has reduced the annual number of deaths to less than 30. But today parents are skipping the vaccine and the disease is returning. In 2004 the number of whooping cough cases spiked past 25,000, the highest level it's been since the 1950s.

Whooping cough begins like the common cold about a week after exposure. But 10 to 12 days later the coughing fits begin, they can last for more than a minute, and the patient may turn red or purple from lack of air (the "whoop" is a desperate gasp to breath!) Vomiting may also result from a coughing fit. Fits usually occur in groups, with multiple episodes every hour around the clock.

These extreme symptoms can be fatal with infants who rarely "whoop". Instead they gasp for air with a reddened face and may actually stop breathing for a few seconds during particularly bad spells or they may choke on vomit.

Treatment - antibiotics such as erythromycin are effective if Whooping cough is caught early BEFORE the coughing begins, but when diagnosed too late, the antibiotics will reduce infectiousness but not the symptoms. Infants younger than 18 months need to be monitored to ensure breathing and may need to be hospitalized. Curiously, cough mixtures, expectorants, and suppressants are usually not helpful and should NOT be used. Most cough mixtures loosen the mucus in the lungs to encourage coughing - with whooping cough the patient is already coughing too much and too frequently so the last thing you want is more coughing.

During recovery, let your child rest in bed and use a cool-mist vaporizer to help soothe irritated lungs and breathing passages. Be sure to follow directions for keeping it clean and mold-free. In addition, keep your home free of irritants that can trigger coughing spells, such as aerosol sprays, tobacco smoke, and smoke from cooking, fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves.

Kids with whooping cough may vomit or not eat or drink much because of frequent coughing. So offer smaller, more frequent meals and encourage your child to drink lots of fluids. Watch for signs of dehydration, too, including thirst, irritability, restlessness, lethargy, sunken eyes, a dry mouth and tongue, dry skin, crying without tears, and fewer trips to the bathroom to urinate (or in infants, fewer wet diapers)

Bottom Line

During a pertussis outbreak, unimmunized children under age 7 should not attend school or public gatherings, and should be isolated from anyone known or suspected to be infected. This should last until 14 days after the last reported case. Remember that the first symptoms do not appear for a week to 10 days and two weeks for the severe coughing. In rare cases it can be 21 days from infection to symptoms. So people may be infected and not know it.

All children should be immunized before the sixth birthday and given a booster shot between ages 11-12.


  1. In the 60's when I was stationed in Germany my landlady's baby had whooping cough. Day and night for a couple of months that poor baby "whooped". The saddest part is to watch it, helplessly. 100% of our whooping cough epidemic in the U.S. is a result of our unwillingness to secure our border. Children are dying so that Democrats can get new illegal voters. Most or all of our TB can also be layed at the feet of the politicians who see new voters in the illegal aliens surging accross our borders. Most of the Hepatitis also came from illegal immigration. Suprisingly leprosey is making a comeback thanks to illegal immigration. What! You say you haven't heard about a leprosey epidemic??? Well it seems our government cannot secure the borders but they can put the lid on a disease to hide their failures. Go ahead and search and you will discover a new leprosy epidemic that somehow is kept quiet. Deaths from disease and about 3000 murders a year committed in the U.S. by illegals. Is it worth it just to get new voters???

  2. This Really Helped Me For My Project. :) Thanks!

  3. What about those who don't believe in immunization? What can they do to be protected?

  4. Recently my husband was wounded by a nail and had a tetanus shot. It occurred to me that I had not had a tetanus booster in too many years to remember, and in the event of an emergency, well... where would one get one? So, I got the booster yesterday. In my research, I discovered that the tetanus booster also takes care of diptheria and whooping cough.

  5. Call me old fashioned, but the only indiginous population in the US are the indians, everyone else is an illegal immigrant!.

  6. There are homeopathic remedies that cover these contingencies. I know it's hard to believe because of the allopathic propaganda machine and people's fear. I have personally seen the body quickly cure these diseases with the aid of homeopathic remedies provided by a trained and trusted doctor of homeopathy who mixes the remedies in his office so they are fresh.

    1. So-called "doctors of homeopathy" are quacks pure and simple and we would all be better off if we broiught back the tar and feathering of quacks.

  7. What a wonderful fantasy. Take some magic herbs and everything is cured. What a failure of our public schools that people believe this. It is pure lunacy to believe that a couple million doctors and scientists are duping us and lying about health care. Your doctor (your real doctor not the homeopathic quacks) is your best source for health care. To believe otherwise in the face of science and evidence.