Nanobug in the News: Bordetella pertussis
There have been 1,284 cases of pertussis reported in the state of Washington through May 5, 2012, compared to 128 reported cases in 2011 during the same time period. There were 965 cases reported statewide in 2011 compared to 608 reported cases in 2010. To control the outbreaks, schools have been closed and monitoring of cases continues.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis and most commonly affects infants and young children. The infection is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After episodes of coughing, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound. For a sample of the characteristic “whoop” of pertussis – click the play button on the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/ . You will surely agree, that this is very uncomfortable to even listen to – especially for a parent. Coughing can be so severe that babies and young children cannot eat, drink or breathe properly. Babies can bleed behind the eyes and in the brain with the coughing and brain damage occurs in 1 out of 250 children who get pertussis. Pertussis can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.
Pertussis is an fairly common (but preventable) disease in the United States, with periodic epidemics every 3 to 5 years and frequent outbreaks. In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in the United States with 9,143 cases of pertussis (including ten infant deaths) reported in California. This is the most cases reported in that state in 63 years. In the last decade outbreaks have been reported in an Amish Community in Delaware, in hospitals, in a high school in Cook County, Illinois, a school in Arizona and in adults working in an oil refinery in Illinois.
Institutional outbreaks of pertussis are common. Outbreaks at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. In school outbreaks, prophylaxis with the pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) is recommended for close classroom and team contacts.
The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.
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