Pertussis : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


Pertussis is also called as whooping cough. Pertussis is an  important communicable disease caused by bacteria,  results in uncontrollable, violent cough. Especially children are affected with pertussis.  As the sound comes during cough and taking air in, is called as whooping cough.  Nearly 5000 to 10000 children in united states are dieing every year because of pertussis.

Causes of pertussis:-

Bordetella pertussis, the bacteria causes pertussis infection. Pertussis is the disease of upper respiratory tract, if not treated causes permanent disability in children and may lead to death. Pertussis transmitted when an infected person sneezes or coughs, the bacteria spreads to air, and the person who inhales pertussis infected air droplets becomes infected with pertussis. Hence pertussis is an infectious disease easily spreads from person to person. Cough, sneezing, runny nose are the early symptoms of pertussis. After the pertussis bacteria multiplies in body, severe cough starts. Children experience weakness, fatigue and discomfort as the cough becomes severe. The continuous cough leads to impaired breathing and the children make whoop sound after coughing, is called whooping cough. Whooping sound is absent in infants less than 8 months. Some children vomits along with small amount of sputum. Coughing and vomiting simultaneously may lead to chocking in infants. Pertussis infection usually lasts for a period of 6 weeks. Whooping cough affects not only children but elder people can also get infected with pertussis. Now the incidence of pertussis is reduced as children are immunized during infancy, and higher rate pertussis is seen in  adolescents and elders.

Symptoms of pertussis:-

* Runny nose, sneezing
* mild fever up to 102 °F.
* Severe, continuous cough
* difficulty in  breathing
* both night and day cough,
* vomiting with sputum and cough,
* dry cough develops after some days,
* presence of whooping sound after cough while taking breath,
* generalized weakness and fatigue,
* Some children will have diarrhoea,
* Choking may occur in infants.

Diagnosis of pertussis:-

The initial diagnosis is the physical examination and history collection. The symptoms of pertussis are similar to pneumonia and the careful examination is needed to diagnose pertussis.

* Sputum test for bacterial culture,
* Nasal secretions test in laboratory,
* Chest x ray is also taken to differentiate from pertussis.
* Blood test is done to check elevated white blood cells.

Treatment of Pertussis:-

Antibiotics such as erythromycin and amoxicillin are the choice of drugs for pertussis treatment. Analgesics and antipyretics  are given to reduce fever and body ache. Incentive care should be taken to treat the infants infected with pertussis, and careful monitoring of progress of diseases and prognosis of treatment is needed. Hospitalization is needed in severe pertussis infected children. An oxygen tent with high humidity is used for infants have breathing difficulty. Intravenous fluids administration is also done to maintain water and electrolyte balance. Sedatives  may be given by the pediatrician for young children to avoid crying and induce sleep. Expectorants, and cough suppressants are  not helpful in treating pertussis.

Prevention of pertussis:-

The DPT vaccine ( diphtheria, pertussis,tetanus) or only pertussis vaccine Helps lot in preventing pertussis. Immunization schedule n most of countries  recommended for DPT-vaccine in infancy itself. The booster shot of pertussis is given after some months in infants. In adults also booster dose of pertussis is given to prevent pertussis in adolescents and adults. Pertussis affected children should follow the measures to prevent spread of pertussis infection by wearing face mask, or avoiding school for some days. The vaccination also given to elders aged above 65 years to prevent pertussis.

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