Talk to a Charlotte pediatrician about pertussis

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract. Though it can be spread among children and cause a concern for parents, it can be prevented with the help of a vaccine.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg health officials were on high alert during late 2006, when nearly 20 cases a month were reported, compared to the usual one to three cases, according to health department figures.

Pertussis is spread through bacteria expelled from the lungs in a cough. It is contracted most easily by children because they often haven't learned how to contain cough germs. Early symptoms of pertussis resemble the common cold and may never develop into the easily identifiable cough.

As with many other diseases, whooping cough is most dangerous to infants, though older children and adults whose immune systems are seriously compromised are also at risk. Severe complications include pneumonia, seizures and encephalopathy, which can result in permanent brain damage or death, especially in infants.

Because the disease may not present the typical ‘whoop’ until later stages, there is a risk of spreading the infection during its earlier stages without even knowing it. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a 5-dose series of pertussis vaccinations starting when infants are two months old and running through early childhood.

Early detection and prevention is best when it comes to contagious illnesses. A Charlotte pediatrician can suggest the best treatment and prevention measures to help protect your child and family from exposure. Sign in to Angie’s List to see which pediatricians have been highly rated and recommended by members in your neighborhood.

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