April 16, 2024

Bordetella pertussis (B. pertussis) is the name of the bacterium that causes whooping cough.
This respiratory illness is easily transmitted and can affect a person at any age but more than 50 percent of infections occur in children younger than four years old.
Teens and adults usually have mild symptoms but can also have serious infection especially if they were not given pertussis vaccine.
Spread of infection is through inhalation of infected air droplets. The illness has three stages – the first stage or catarrhal stage that begins five to 10 days after exposure, the second stage called paroxysmal stage that starts seven to 14 days after the initial symptoms, and the third stage called convalescent stage that starts four to six weeks after the initial symptoms.
During the first stage, a child with pertussis has watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, restlessness, anorexia, and a dry hacking cough. The cough initially starts at night then the frequency increases until daytime. Fever is usually absent.
As the illness progresses, rapid uncontrolled coughing episodes are followed by a whoop. This is a hurried deep inhalation that creates a high-pitched noise. Normal breathing then occurs, followed by coughing.
Thick mucus may be coughed up or cause vomiting. Pauses in breathing (called apnea) cause a baby or a young child to turn blue or cyanotic because of lack of oxygen. Four to six weeks after the first symptoms, coughing episodes lessen in frequency and the patient improves. Recovery may be slow in some cases.
An initial infection with B. pertussis does not usually confer a full lifetime immunity. A second infection if it occurs is usually mild.
Vaccination is the best protection against whooping cough.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC and the Philippine College of Physicians has recommend these vaccination schedules: DTaP at age two months, four months, six months, 18 months, and booster dose at age four through six years.
Eleven to 18 year old adolescents who received the primary doses should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years to boost their immunity.
Adults aged 19 to 64 years who have never received vaccination against pertussis should get a Tdap shot. This can be given at any time, regardless of when they last got Td. For adults 65 years old and older who have not received Tdap booster should receive one booster dose.
CDC recommends that women should get Tdap during the early part of the third trimester of every pregnancy. This helps protect the baby from whooping cough in the first few months of life.


DTaP and Tdap are the vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. The formulations vary. The letters represent the vaccine. Upper-case letters mean that the vaccine is at full strength. The lower-case letters denote a lower dose of the vaccine. DTaP contains full doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccines. Tdap contains a full dose of the tetanus vaccine and a lower dose of diphtheria and whooping cough vaccines.
The lower-case “a” stands for “acellular”. This means that only fragments of the bacterium Bordetella pertussis were used in preparing the vaccine.


May our faith in the Lord sustain us in our quest for a healthier body and mind. May the joy and blessings of Easter be upon us. Happy Easter!