Pertussis the Basics:
So, I think this is some of the basic information that you should know regarding Pertussis.
1.) ~80% of reported cases for pertussis have happened in those who have been FULLY vaccinated. ~11% happened in those who were partially vaccinated. ~ 8% were in those not vaccinated at all. (That was from a study done in 2011 regarding all of the cases reported to the CDC.)
2.) 2012 is on course to have the most recorded (verified cases) since 1959. There is an expectation that more than 40,000 cases will be verified nation wide. So, far approximately 29,000 cases were reported to the CDC as of September 20, 2012. Please see the previous posts as to the possible reasons why.
3.) This figure does not include the number of cases that go misdiagnosed or un-diagnosed. It is estimated that there are 2- 3 cases unreported for every case that is.
4.) Children under the age of 1 have the highest risk of death and serious complications. They usually have to be hospitalized. Their symptoms tend to be apnea. They may not have any indications that they are sick at all, except they tend to gasp for breath. They usually do not have the gasping or whooping cough that is present in children and adults.
5.) There are 3 phases to the illness:
Stage 1: Symptoms mimic the common cold and is contagious via sneezing. (In our case, we had nasal congestion, headache, fatigue, and all over body aches.) It generally lasts 7 to 10 days but can last from 4 to 21 days.
Stage 2: Severe coughing that can lead to vomiting (may or may not develop a “whooping” sound with the coughing). Generally, the coughing will go in “spells” and then resolve. These coughing fits will be worse at night. This stage lasts from 1-6 weeks but can last up to 10 weeks.
Stage 3: Recovery: coughing is less severe and finally resolves
6.) A person can develop the severe coughing spells with subsequent upper respiratory infections (ie, colds) after they are over the Pertussis bacterial infection.
7.) Teenagers and Adults are at a high risk for developing pertussis, but it is generally not life threatening, unless they have a compromised immune system or are over the age of 65.
8.) The coughing is not caused by the bacteria
directly but by the body’s response to toxins that the bacteria and your immune system produce. These toxins cause inflammation of the respiratory tract and paralysis of the cilia in the respiratory tract. The infection has recently been discovered in deeper tissues of the lungs as well.9.) YOU MAY NOT HAVE A FEVER or might only have a low grade fever with the infection.
10.) An antibiotic kills the bacteria and makes it non-contagious, but it does not get rid of the coughing or other symptoms once the severe coughing begins (because that’s the body’s reaction to the toxins the bacteria produced).
11.) The general incubation period (period from when you were exposed till the time you develop your first symptom) is 7-10 days (BUT IT CAN TAKE UP TO 6 WEEKS!!!!). This means that if you have lunch with a friend who is sick with pertussis during the contagious period, you may not develop the first symptoms until 6 weeks later.
12.) If you have been exposed, at the first onset of sneezing, runny nose, headache, sore throat or mild cough, you need to be treated with an antibiotic, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE CONTACT WITH INFANTS or Toddlers. Early treatment with antibiotics can prevent further symptoms from developing. (If you are treated in the first two weeks (before the coughing attacks begin, then you may not get as sick.)
13.) If you are not treated with antibiotics, you are contagious for approximately three weeks!!! After three weeks of illness, the bacteria is generally gone and your symptoms are being caused by the toxins.
14.) Once you begin taking antibiotics, you are contagious for FIVE days after you take it.
15.) Nasopharyngeal testing is most accurate within two weeks after the coughing fits develop. After that it is less accurate, and there is a higher chance of false NEGATIVES. Blood tests can be used from the 2 to 8 week point(after onset of severe coughing) but is not as accurate as the nasopharyngeal swab test. To indicate recent infections via blood testing, it is important to have your IGA antibodies tested. If those are above normal, it is because you have recently had the illness.
16.) Unlike other bacterial infections, this infection produces generous amounts of CLEAR, stringy mucous. (This is another reason that it is commonly misdiagnosed as allergies, cold, etc).
So, what does all this mean?
It means, you have to be proactive. It’s important that if you’ve had it (especially in confirmed cases) that you let people you’ve been in close contact with (up to six weeks prior!) know that you were diagnosed. I also believe it is fundamentally important to get a confirmation of the illness. Because if your doctor just proactively treats you with an antibiotic, you may not have it, and you don’t want to panic people if you don’t. Also, you may have an antibiotic resistant form or a form different from pertussis that is causing the same symptoms, in which it is important to confirm and report any mutations so that these issues can be addressed through the CDC.
The testing for pertussis is not instantaneous, so I would highly recommend that if it is suspected that you have it, quarantine yourself and those you live with until you have a definitive answer.
Finally, there is no treatment for the symptoms, though early antibiotic might lessen the severity in your symptoms (because you kill the bacteria before it causes a maximal amount of toxins). So why take an antibiotic at all? Because it kills the bacteria and prevents it from being spread. (and again early use of antibiotics will lessen the amount of toxins that build in your system.)
I’ve talked with many health professionals over the past week, as well as representatives from the CDC. There isn’t any medication that can be prescribed that will remove the toxins. You body just has to clear them naturally and this is why it can take up to 6 weeks for you to recover from the cough.
However, it is suggested that there are OTC remedies that might help relieve the coughing spells. I will provide both basic OTC remedies, as well as non traditional remedies that might help. None of these suggestions are proven, but when you are miserable or your children are miserable, you will find you are willing to do anything that might help.
Basic OTC remedies:
Delsym cough syrup (or other OTC cough syrup- didn’t work well for us)
Vicks vapor rub (applied generously at night)
Cold air vaporizer with Eucalyptus
Baking soda and salt baths
anti-inflammatory drugs: ibuprofen
Sleeping upright or as much as possible
Antibacterial or antimicrobial:
To help eliminating the mucous:
Total Cleanse: respiratory
There is no scientific proof that any of those remedies both natural and basic OTC medications work at all in relieving the symptoms, killing the bacteria, or preventing the spread of whooping cough or any other illness or infection. However, you will find that when you’re child is coughing so hard that they are vomiting that you will try anything.
If you do try the natural based products, in order for any relief at all, they need to be used on a consistent basis. Natural products do not have the potency that prescription medicines have, so they do not provide immediate relief.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave advice for what has worked for you.