Pertussis, which is better known as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. This illness is highly contagious and usually affects infants and both teenagers and adults whose vaccination immunity has faded. While it is characterized by an intense cough ending with a high-pitch 'whoop' sound, some individuals may have contracted the infection and only experience a severe hacking cough instead.
While death by whooping cough is rare, it is the most common in infants who have yet to complete the full vaccination. The beginning stages of the illness resemble that of a common cold, but after about a week or so, you may encounter difficulty breathing, vomiting or hacking up mucus, extreme fatigue, and a red or blue discoloration in the face. Being infected with whooping cough can be very tiresome, here is what to do if you or a loved one contracts it.
Because whooping cough is an infection caused by bacteria, physicians commonly recommend erythromycin or other antibiotics as the primary treatment method. Antibiotics work to kill off the harmful bacteria allowing the body to heal faster. While this medication doesn't necessarily shorten the time of the illness, it cuts down the contagious period.
Because pertussis is highly contagious, family members or friends who may have been exposed to the infected person may be given antibiotics as a preventative measure. While this form of medication can be used to reduce the severity of the disease, it is only drastically effective if taken in the early stages. This is because as the disease persists, the bacteria makes its way throughout the body worsening the symptoms.