So far in 2012, whooping cough has killed 23 children under 5 years of age in Bogota, Colombia, nearly doubling the number of fatalities from last year ( 14 victims ), it is being reported. The majority of the victims has been in children under 1 year of age, highlighting the danger this disease poses to infants.
Pertussis has been making a sort of resurgence worldwide lately, with higher than normal incidence being reported in many countries, which is a worrying development. The causes of the increase are still unclear; partly, the new, acellular vaccine DTaP seems to provide shorter span protection than previously thought, necessitating more frequent boosters, especially with adults who are more likely to be carriers without any clear symptoms. It is also possible that the bacteria that cause pertussis may have undergone changes that make the current vaccines less effective at preventing infections. However, at this point, no one knows for sure, and chances are that there is no single cause, but a combination of factors that account for the increase in pertussis incidence.
What is known however, is that whooping cough is not a harmless disease; even when not fatal, it can be debilitating for young children, leading to lifelong complications. According to the CDC, in children under 1 years of age, an infection with pertussis leads to a 57% hospitalization rate, and of those hospitalized:
- 1 in 4 (23%) get pneumonia (lung infection)
- 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will have convulsions (violent, uncontrolled shaking)
- Two thirds (67%) will have apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
- 1 in 300 (0.4%) will have encephalopathy (disease of the brain)
- 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will die
Pertussis kills; we need to protect our children, and one of the best ways to do that, is to ensure you do not become a carrier and spreader of the disease. Do not hesitate, get your Tdap booster shot.
Inject to protect!