Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Experience

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What is whooping cough? What is the history of whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial upper respiratory infection that leads to episodes of violent coughing. The disease is named for the characteristic sound produced when affected individuals attempt to inhale; the whoop originates from the inflammation and swelling of the laryngeal structures (voice box) that vibrate when there is a rapid inflow of air during inspiration. Whooping cough is highly contagious.

The first outbreaks of whooping cough were described in the 16th century. The bacterium responsible for the infection, Bordetella pertussis, was not identified until 1906. In the pre-vaccination era (during the 1920s and '30s), there were over 250,000 cases of whooping cough per year in the U.S., with up to 9,000 deaths. In the 1940s, the pertussis vaccine, combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DTP), was introduced. By 1976, the incidence of whooping cough in the U.S. had decreased by over 99%.

During the 1980s, however, the incidence of whooping cough began to increase and has risen steadily, with epidemics typically occurring every three to five years in the U.S. In the epidemic of 2005, 25,616 cases were reported according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2008, over 13,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the U.S., resulting in 18 deaths. In 2010, which included an epidemic in California (see below), 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported nationwide.

In 2012, over 48,000 cases of pertussis infection were reported in the U.S., the highest number of reported cases in one year since 1955.

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Comment from: heidi, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 14

I am 50 and have just been diagnosed with whooping cough, I have had a cough for about 3 weeks with it peaking this weekend. I do have spasms of coughing, with a whoop noise, my eyes water and at the end of each episode I gag like I am going to vomit. I feel very under the weather and am hot and cold, have no energy and now have chest pain also.

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Comment from: Capergirl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 22

The first week of December I was treated for upper respiratory infection. By Christmas Eve, I felt like I was suffocating. I coughed for hours at a time. I couldn't eat, drink or breathe. The day after Christmas I went to the emergency room (ER). I wrote a note, I had no voice and constant coughing. The ER nurses told me I only felt as though I was choking to death but I really wasn't. So they left me to sit in the waiting room for four hours. I was going to leave but I was afraid I would die at home because I couldn't breathe. Nine hours later, I had a prescription for seven antibiotics, no cough medicine. Diagnosis, cough. Really? By now I'm certain I have broken two ribs and something has ripped apart in my abdomen. The hospital did not notify my doctor. They did not notify me! I called daily, for 5 days. All I was told was, your test was positive for whooping cough, pertussis, you'll feel better. No warning of the danger I pose to everyone around me, no treatment for family members, and no go see your doctor. Well, I'm not better. But five rounds of antibiotics have not helped much. I'm exhausted, sore and can barely talk. I am waiting to see my doctor to see what he says. My advice, if you had any testing done, you follow up, call daily for results, seek treatment for family members and let others know you are sick. And stay home. Please.

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