Pertussis or otherwise known as whooping cough is a type of infection that is caused by a bacterium called the Bordatella pertussis or B. pertussis. Before the vaccine was made available, pertussis can kill more than 10,000 people every year in the United States alone. Fortunately, with the availability and the discovery of the vaccine, the annual mortality of pertussis is reduced significantly to less than 30. Nevertheless, in recent years, the number of individuals with this type of infection has ballooned once again, reaching more than 25,000 reported cases. Although this condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, many of its victims are infants aged 6 months and younger. This is due to their inadequate protection from immunizations. Teenagers are also prone in developing this kind of infection since their immunity from their vaccinations has already faded. But what is the pertussis incubation period? Below are some of the facts and details about pertussis, which can help us know more about this critical health problem.
Signs and Symptoms of Pertussis
The signs and symptoms of pertussis or whooping cough are rather similar with that of a common cold. Initially, pertussis will produce common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection such as mild cough, sneezing, rhinorhea or runny nose and low grade fever. However, after 2 weeks of experiencing these symptoms, dry and irritating coughs will develop into coughing spells. Coughing spells experienced in pertussis usually lasts for a minute, which causes the affected individual to turn red or purple due to the lack of oxygen and increased exertion in coughing. A whooping sound can also be observed every after having the cough spells. Some children may also vomits due to the great effort exerted by the lungs which compresses or affects the upper portion of the GIT. Nevertheless, not of all of these symptoms are present in all cases of pertussis including the production of the whooping sound.
In most adults and adolescents, whooping cough may only produce milder or atypical symptoms such as prolonged cough without the whoop or the coughing spells.
Pertussis is also divided into three stages based on its symptoms. The first stage is called the catarrhal stage which occurs 1 to 2 weeks and is exhibited by the initial symptoms of the disease. This is then followed by the paroxysmal period that can take from 1 to 6 weeks up to 10 weeks. This period is characterized by a burst or paroxysm of numerous and rapid coughs. This is usually the stage wherein the whooping sound is already being observed. The third stage is called the convalescent stage. This period of the disease lasts approximately 1 to 6 weeks but can extend up to several months. The symptoms will also begin to subside but mild coughing can still continue. This is the reason why pertussis is also tagged as the “100 day cough” due to its prolonged effects to the respiratory system.
Incubation Period of Pertussis
Pertussis is actually considered a contagious disease. This is passed or spread through infected droplets that are produced from coughing or sneezing, which are highly infectious. Nonetheless, before producing any signs and symptoms, pertussis will usually have an incubation period that lasts from 7 to 10 days but can end as early as 4 days or as long as 21 days.
Treatment for Pertussis
We are very lucky that in today’s modern world, there are already many innovations and discoveries with regards to the field of health and medicine. Antibiotics and other drugs that target the symptoms of the disease are already available in combating pertussis. The drug of choice for this type of respiratory infection is usually erythromycin, which is likewise given to people who are in close contact with the affected individual in order to minimize the transmission or the spread of the disease. Supportive therapy is also very useful in this kind of condition. Bed rest along with increase fluid intake can help strengthen the immune system against the invading bacteria. Antipyretic medications can also be given in order to control the fever. Infants at the right age (depending on the protocol of department of health in every country) must be given the vaccination against pertussis. This vaccine is usually administered through IM or intramuscular injection via the vastus lateralis muscle or the front inner muscle of the thigh of the baby. This immunization is a combined vaccination or solution against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, which earned it the name DPT or DTaP.
Possibility of Acquiring Pertussis More than Once
Most infections usually do not affect the same person twice since antibodies against the causative agents are already developed in the body. However, there is still a possibility for these diseases to affect the person more than once just like pertussis. However, this situation is considered rare or uncommon. Once reinfection occurs, this will only present a milder set of symptoms such as the persistent coughing. Nonetheless, the severity of the symptoms of the disease is considered lesser.
These are just some of the important facts and details pertaining to the health condition known as pertussis. As always, proper and immediate attention and intervention are still the main keys in treating this respiratory infection and limiting its spread and transmission.