The Big Whoop About Whooping Cough

thFirst of all, let me go ahead and tell you that I am NOT a medical doctor. I’m just a concerned mom who had to carry her kid in for a whooping cough test last weekend, which prompted me to go all WebMD on the internet, while we waited for her normal (negative, no whooping cough, hallelujah!) results. Maybe you’ve been in my place too? Here’s what I found out about whooping cough.

Tarrant County is primed and ready to experience the worst whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak it’s seen in 50 years, according to a September article I read in the Star-Telegram. There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which is a lightning rod topic: choosing to vaccinate or not vaccinate. We’ve been talking about the flu, so you knew I would go there with this, didn’t you?

Our kids are vaccinated, but my daughter is only 10 months old. The TDaP vaccine is given in 5 doses, so she’s only had 3 at this point in her life. They’re given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, according to the Texas Department of Health, and then she’ll get one between 15-18 months, and another before entering school, so she’s not fully vaccinated yet. That means she is absolutely at risk of susceptibility to the disease.

I asked our doctor WHY is there an outbreak in whooping cough? I thought this was an Oregon Trail-style disease – gone the way of the covered wagon! Hasn’t it been eradicated? There are multiple possibilities: more people choosing not to vaccinate, thus putting themselves at risk, a newer, weaker type of vaccine, and unawareness of the need for a booster in the vaccination schedule.

So what IS whooping cough? Whooping cough, or pertussis, is incredibly contagious. It’s an upper respiratory disease spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. (All of this I got from the CDC.) It starts with cold-like symptoms and mild fever. After a 1-2 weeks, the coughing fits set in, which can last for several months. In some countries, it’s known as the 100 day cough. The coughing fit usually ends with the person taking a huge breath (which may sound like a whoop) because they have exhausted all of their breath in the cough. I searched YouTube for a video of someone coughing with it, if you are curious to hear it.

Coughing for 100 days. Who wants that? NONE OF US. Here’s what to do to protect yourself against whooping cough:

  1. If you’ve been exposed, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. If you suspect you’ve been exposed, call your doctor, leave a message with the nurse, and do whatever you need to do to find out what they recommend. Usual treatment for those exposed is a round of antibiotics, according to our pediatrician.
  2. Know the vaccination schedule! There is a reason these types of diseases had been almost eliminated in modern society. Modern medicine!  I’m no expert on this, but I DO believe in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” especially in this instance.  Here is a rousing post on that exact topic that {obviously} went viral. This mom addresses herd immunity, alternative vaccination schedule, all of it. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Again, I’m not a medical expert. Sprinkled throughout this post are links to the best resources I know of – the Texas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.  Please take the time to educate yourselves through them and seek out the advice of your trusted physician!

Has whooping cough hit your family?

Emily G
Emily is married to Brad and mother of the handsome Jack and precious Annabelle. After more than a decade as a software engineer (two of those as a working mother), she cleaned out her cubicle and can be found most days at one of the beautiful parks Cowtown has to offer, without a WiFi hotspot in range. These days, Emily spends her time exploring our fair city with her babes in tow, volunteering at her church, cheering on the Fightin' Texas Aggies, and shopping her way through DFW at large. You'll find her journaling her daily life at Being Mrs. Gentry.

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