April 30, 2012: Oxford County Public Health is advising the public about an increase in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, since the start of 2012. Read the news release
What is pertussis?
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It presents a serious health risk to infants under one year of age and young children.
What are the symptoms?
Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms like a runny nose and fever, but develops into persistent coughing spells that can last for up to two months.
Severe coughing from pertussis can lead to gagging, vomiting, or a “whooping” sound as people try to catch their breath.
Pertussis can cause young children to stop breathing from coughing and can also lead to pneumonia, seizures or brain damage. Infants can die from whooping cough.
How is pertussis spread?
Pertussis is spread easily through coughing, sneezing or contact with someone who has the illness. Adults may have less severe symptoms, but can pass the illness on to others.
Anyone with pertussis, or whooping cough, is contagious for three weeks after coughing starts, or for five days after they begin taking prescribed medication to treat the illness.