Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
There have been many reported cases of the respiratory infection pertussis in Washington. While only having around 200,000 reported cases a year, pertussis — also known as whooping cough — spreads very quickly and is easy to catch.
The infection locates itself in the respiratory tract, the system of passages that connects your mouth, nose and lungs. Having the infection can make breathing difficult and is a common cause of death for infants who contract it.
Pertussis feels just like the common cold at first. Symptoms include a runny nose, coughing and a fever. However, it slowly evolves into violent coughing that sounds like a “whoop,” thus the nickname. The virus primarily infects those between the ages 1 through 18 but is not unheard of in adults.
Many people may have gotten vaccines for pertussis — DTaP ( a combination of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) for those who are below the age of seven, and the Tdap (the same vaccine but with less of the diphtheria vaccine in it) for those who are eleven or older. However, it has been found that the vaccines do eventually wear off. In 2010, a large outbreak of pertussis occured in California; five times as many cases were reported as in 2009. The most common age group for those who were affected was between the ages eight and 12 years old. Doctors believe that the main cause of the outbreak was that the vaccine that age group was given had worn off.
If contracted and caught early, the infection can be treated with antibiotics. However, it is best to begin to prepare for it before it gets to you. Wash your hands constantly and always before touching your mouth or face. If you do contract pertussis, help prevent it from spreading to those near you by remembering to cover your nose and mouth before sneezing, and washing your hands as often as possible. The infection thrives in school situations because it can spread via skin-to-skin contact or by airborne particulates. If you think that you or someone you know has the infection, look into seeing a doctor for it can not be self diagnosed.