Whooping Cough

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Overview

A whooping cough is a respiratory tract infection by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It’s a highly contagious condition, characterized by a severe hacking cough followed by a high pitched intake of breath that sounds like; “whoop.” It affects infants, which haven’t completed their vaccination course, and teenagers and adults after their immunity has faded. Death from a whooping cough is rare but may occur in infants.

Causes

The bacterium Bortedella purtussis causes the infection. The infection is spread via air borne droplets.

Symptoms

Initially, the symptoms are mild, and they take 7-10 days to develop. These initial symptoms can be listed as the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery, red eyes
  • Fever
  • Cough

After about 2 weeks, the symptoms become more severe. As mucus starts to accumulate in the airways, the patient starts coughing uncontrollably, and these attacks of coughing may lead to vomiting, red or blue face, and, extreme fatigue. At the end of a cough, there is a high pitched whoop sound, when the patient takes the next breath.

Diagnosis

Normally, it can be diagnosed by History and Clinical examination, but the following tests can be done to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Nose or throat culture
  • Complete Blood Count test to detect the number of WBCs
  • Chest X-ray

Treatment

For the treatment of a whooping cough, antibiotics can be given to shorten the course of the disease by killing bacteria. Over the counter cough, medicine is not very useful to control a cough.

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