Whooping cough, known clinically as pertussis, is a disease caused by bacteria. It starts out with the symptoms of the common cold – runny nose, sneezing, a low grade fever, and a cough. But the cough worsens after the first or second week and eventually causes coughing fits that are so strong they can cut off the air supply. In babies, this can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or even death.

The Dangers of Whooping Cough

When a person with whooping cough sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the bacteria can enter another person’s body through the air. The bacteria is also spread through things touched by the infected person. However, the first symptoms usually appear with 5 to 21 days after the person is infected, which means that the bacteria can spread before one even has an inkling that he or she has been infected with the pertussis bacteria.

You might infect your baby with whooping cough before you even realize you’re sick. That’s why it is vital that every member of the family of an infant must see a doctor to be vaccinated for whooping cough. Visit the Pediatric Center of Round Rock to learn more about the importance of the pertussis vaccine.

Other Ways to Protect Your Baby from Whooping Cough

  • Wash your hands frequently and insist others wash their hands before holding your baby
  • Keep your baby away from anyone who is coughing
  • Cover your mouth if you cough, and then wash your hands
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well

Make sure everyone in your family has been vaccinated, and that everyone who cares for your baby has been vaccinated

When Can Your Baby Be Vaccinated?

Children receive a total of five doses of the pertussis vaccine before they are considered to be fully immunized. These doses are given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and at 4-6 years.

Until your child has been fully immunized, you must protect him or her by getting vaccinated yourself, and by making sure that every adult in his or her life has been vaccinated as well. This is one of the most fundamental ways you can take care of the baby you love.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas DSHS), the statewide rate of whooping cough has been higher than it’s been since 1962. In Williamson County, Travis County, and Burnet County, the incidence of whooping cough is among the highest in the state.

Whooping cough can be fatal to infants who have not yet been fully vaccinated. The best way to protect babies is to make sure the adults in their lives are vaccinated.

Learn more about the Texas statistics: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/pertussis/statistics/

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.