Whooping Cough and You

Do you recall that a while ago I posted about Whooping Cough? People cough so violently and so long from this, called “Pertussis”, that they break ribs. Children can die.

Whooping cough is very infectious and it is coming back.  I wasn’t kidding about this, friends.

I saw today a story:

Whooping Cough Outbreak Spreads On Long Island; More Than 200 Cases Reported

Talk to your doctor. If necessary get a Tetanus and Pertussis booster.

“Whooping Cough” seems like something from the past. Like the Great Depression.

You don’t want to get this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. pseudomodo says:

    Two words…

    Childhood Vaccination.

  2. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Bordetella pertussis is an infectious organism that is becoming more prevalent again for several reasons: waning immunity among middle-aged and older individuals AND immigration of un-vaccinated individuals into our communities. Vaccination programs have the greatest success when they accomplish ‘herd immunity’ where a sufficient number of people are vaccinated so that there ceases to be a reservoir of infected people altogether. With immigration and waxing immunity, there is developing a reservoir of pertussis-infected individuals. And with pertussis you are infectious PRIOR to developing the pathognonomic “paroxysmal cough”. My mother (in her mid-50s at the time) developed pertussis a few years ago. It is important for people to discuss their vaccination history with their primary care physician. Everyone should be getting a Td (Tetanus & diphtheria) booster every 10yrs and recent recommendations recommend all adults get a Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, & Pertussis) as replacement for one of their Td boosters. There is a reason efforts were made to develop and widely vaccinate against Tetanus, Diphtheria, & Pertussis as the diseases are associated with a great deal of morbidity and even mortality. Kudos to Fr. Z for using his blog to bring attention to this.

  3. pvmkmyer says:

    Last winter there was an outbreak here in California. It is very important for anyone who is around small children, especially infants, to get vaccinated so you don’t spread the disease. It can be fatal in children under 1 year old. Listen up, grandparents!

  4. Mellie says:

    The Pertussis vaccine caused a severe allergic reaction in one of my children. The doctor said that it would be far better for him to go without the vaccine than have it again. Bummer.

  5. jmvm says:

    As a physician, I agree with the above comments about the importance of childhood vaccination. Unfortunately, when I attended an annual Catholic Medical Association meeting a year ago, there seemed to be a fair contingent of individuals (attendees, not necessarily the leadership of the organization) who were anti-vaccination. While there can be legitimate concerns of the source of some vaccines from fetal tissues, there was unfortunately also a strong anti-establishment sentiment against vaccines largely hinging debunked studies regarding vaccines and autism. My sense is that our Catholic identity leads us to often be counter-cultural (“a sign of contradiction”) but we need to wary of buying into every conspiracy theory.

  6. APX says:

    I was vaccinated as a child, and the last time I was checked, I was still good and not in need of a booster for Whooping Cough, just something else, no clue what, though.

  7. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    @ Mellie:
    Reactions occasionally occur with any vaccine and a reaction can be a contraindication to further vaccination attempts. But as I mentioned above, waning herd immunity places your child at greater risk of becoming infected with pertussis in the absence of effective vaccination.

    And, in my medical opinion (having gone through medical school and really looked into the issue), I do not believe there is a causal relationship between vaccination and autism.

  8. Liz says:

    My friend’s unvaccinated kids got whooping cough several years ago. They got it from her vaccinated teenagers. I’m not so sure about vaccines. I go back and forth.

  9. frleo says:

    We had an outbreak in south central Montana in early November.

  10. Elly says:

    Thank you for reminding people about this. Vaccinations are so important! Please keep your family up to date on all vaccines, if not for yourself then for those who are too young or weak to receive them and at a much higher risk of dying from the disease.

  11. jilly4ski says:

    Indeed vaccination as children is important, however it should be noted, just because you were vaccinated as a child, does not mean you still make the antibodies. It also costs a great deal to test whether you still make the antibodies. When women get pregnant, they get tested. I got my bill before medicaid kicked in, and it was $1,500 for all the labs. It was found that I no longer was immune to rubella (which is dangerous to the baby in utero if contracted). Luckily the booster stuck for the next time around, but I was told, that it is it is not uncommon for people to not make the rubella antibodies at all.

  12. I believe it may have been whooping cough which took me out of work for months with what was called a “paroxysmal cough”. I would go into coughing fits several times per hour, lasting 1-2 minutes. They were so violent that, among other things I won’t mention, I fractured a rib. Started out as a cold and a week or two later BANG!

    Adults don’t usually get the violent cough. In fact, many think it’s just the flu or it’s after effects.

    I never did find out if adults can get a violent cough from it for months as I did.

    Incidentally, I was in my early 40’s. I’m sure my childhood vaccine had worn off and it had been decades since I had a DPT shot.

  13. Rich says:

    Ask for the TDAP (“tee-dap”) vaccine!

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    Been there, done that! Had whooping cough last year.

    Here’s what happened (and those of you who think childhood vaccinations are enough, listen up!) The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is generally given as part of the tetanus booster. Tetanus is needed only every 10 years or so, and it’s a pretty stiff one – some local pain & swelling, temperature afterwards, etc. so they don’t encourage you to get it more frequently. But the immunity from the pertussis booster doesn’t last nearly as long – maybe 5 years if you’re lucky.

    I got caught in the window between when my pertussis immunity dropped and when I was due for another tetanus booster. Didn’t break any ribs but I coughed like a horse for six weeks.

    Individual bad reactions to various immunizations are one thing, but refusal of all vaccines on the basis of supposedly causing autism or some sort of conspiracy between doctors and Big Pharma is a really, really stupid idea. Those of us old enough to remember measles & polio epidemics, or who have travelled to places where various nasty diseases are still rife, appreciate modern medicine.

    The man who did the original study linking vaccines & autism was disciplined for falsifying his data, his medical license was revoked, and the article was withdrawn from the Lancet.

  15. Liz says:

    Very interesting…going to be discussing with our doctor. BTW, our doctor spread the vaccines out so he can see if there is a bad reaction and to which vaccine it is to. I don’t know if other doctors do this, but I appreciate it. I would have thought we were up-to-date since they all have the Tetanus, but I thought we had ten years. Hmmm…

  16. We don’t do every vaccine but we do vaccinate our kids for whooping cough. So glad we do too. So far we haven’t had any severe reactions but I definitely understand parental concern regarding vaccinations.

  17. danivdp says:

    From the article:

    “The majority of the students who have been infected with whooping cough had been immunized, which health officials said may account for their milder illness.”

    It really is too bad that “modern medicine” can’t develop a better pertussis vaccine. It is the least effective, and has the most side effects (well, IDK if the MMR is worse…..)

    And trusting Big Pharma? That went out the window when they developed a vaccine for a STD and are trying to market it as a cancer vaccine. Or maybe it was when the Rotavirus vaccine got recalled. Please. I think I’ll do my own research and pick what I want my kids vaccinated against, and they can try to con somebody else into the ridiculous amount of shots “required” nowadays.

  18. ckdexterhaven says:

    I made sure all my kids got the diphtheria-tetanus, what they call dip-tet. They need dip-tet boosters yearly, or they develop lockjaw and night vision.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist putting in a reference to one of the best movies, ever. Or my name ain’t Nathan Arizona.

  19. mariadevotee says:

    As a heads up, some vaccines are made from aborted fetal cell lines. Sometimes alternatives are available. Info is here on The National Catholic Bioethics Center website

  20. Norah says:

    Whooping Cough has returned to Australia also. My friend, a primary [elementary] school teacher caught it from one of her students and one night coughed so badly that she began to choke and luckily her med student son was home and knew what to do.

  21. Folks: Since I am not a physician check with your physicians, your doctors, about whether or not you should be vaccinated.

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