Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Whooping cough

I suspect that everyone of you who reads this article will never seen, or experienced whooping cough, which is why many parents in the western world are taking it less seriously than they should. This fact was brought home to me by an article in the morning paper which gave the following description of the illness as: "Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is an acute respiratory infection that is transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs." Which when I read that, sounded like getting a mild cold. It did go on to state that "in young babies, infection can lead to severe health problems including pneumonia seizures and in some cases permanent disabilities or death", which did appear to give it an "edgier" feel.

But whooping cough is far nastier than these words make it appear.

Whooping cough still kills around 300,000 infants around the world each year and is one of the leading avoidable causes of death in children. The vast majority of those deaths occur in populations with poor, or non existent vaccination programs.

I have cared for patients with whooping cough, and it's a terribly debilitating disease. One family of five suffered miserably with pertussis for SIX months! They didn't have the energy to go upstairs to their bedrooms, so neighbours had dragged the mattresses downstairs for them to lie on. They were exhausted from the intractable coughing and feeling unwell: antibiotics were of no use to them, and all they could do was wait for full recovery, which eventually happened.

Because of the unfounded scare regarding the whooping cough vaccine, many people were confused and stopped vaccinating their children: children are at far greater risk of harm being driven to the supermarket in their parents car! Having our precious children protected against these "Childhood", yet killer diseases is something we should all do. If you do have genuine concerns, then talk to an expert, and, as my Mum always told me,  don't always believe everything you read in the newspaper!
Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.

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