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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pertussis Prophylaxis

Last week, pertussis was in the news again.  New York Times wellness blogger, Tara Parker-Pope, described her 11-year-old daughter's whooping cough.

"It is not your run-of-the-mill summer cold, but a violent, debilitating cough that takes over her body, usually at night.  During these fits, her face turns red and tears start streaming from her eyes. She coughs so hard she eventually starts to gasp for air, making a horrifying sucking sound that at one point had me reaching for the phone to call 911. But she eventually catches her breath. Several times she has coughed so hard she begins to throw up."

Pertussis rates across the country, and in Michigan, are climbing.  Let's do what we can to prevent the "100-day" cough.  Children, especially infants, who've been directly exposed to pertussis, should be treated with antibiotic.  But the best prevention is the vaccine.  The first series of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccinations ends around the time children first go to school at age 6; but booster shots are recommended at age 11 or 12, and every 5 to 10 years after that.  Immunity starts within a couple of weeks after getting the shot.

Let's keep ourselves and our kids up to date.