Pertussis, or whooping cough, is on the rise in New Mexico. Anyone can get pertussis and, in fact, increases in disease are occurring in all age groups. But babies who get pertussis are the group at greatest risk of complications, including pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
Please read the information for New Mexico Families and the Fact Sheet to help you protect your family from pertussis. We also have information for Healthcare Professionals and Surveillance Data for the Research Community.
Whooping cough disease (also called pertussis) causes fits of coughing that in some persons make it hard to breathe. Cases of whooping cough (pertussis) are on the rise and young infants are the most vulnerable to severe disease and possible complications. Many are hospitalized every year and some have died.
Whooping cough shots safely prevent the disease. But, your new baby is too young to get the shot, and is at risk for getting the disease from others. To protect your baby, make sure that these people are up-to-date on their whooping cough shots:
Protection from the disease fades with time. Make sure anyone 10 years of age or older get a booster shot, called Tdap, at least two weeks before they have contact with your baby.
Babies most often catch whooping cough from a family member. By protecting yourself from the disease, you also protect your baby. Ask your doctor for a Tdap shot. You can get it:
If you have not gotten your Tdap shot yet, get one before leaving the hospital with your new baby. It’s safe to get a Tdap shot while breastfeeding. If you do not have a prenatal or primary care provider, contact your local public health office.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
Symptoms usually appear 4 to 21 days after exposure to someone with the illness. The symptoms of pertussis occur in three stages.
The bacterium that causes pertussis is found in the nose and throat of infected people. These
bacteria spread through the air in droplets produced when an infected person sneezes and/or
coughs. Persons in the early stage of illness are the most contagious.
After five days of the proper antibiotics, people are no longer contagious. If a person does not take antibiotics, s/he is contagious for 21 days after the onset of the coughing spasms.
Pertussis can occur at any age, but vaccination lowers the risk. It most commonly occurs in very young children who have not been vaccinated. Older children and adults may also get pertussis, but usually a milder form of the illness.
Antibiotics will shorten the length of time the person is contagious and the length of time the illness can be spread. If started in the early stage of the disease, antibiotics may make the illness less severe. However, even with the antibiotics, people may cough for many weeks.
People sick with a cough should be kept home until they have been treated with antibiotics for at least five days and are well enough to return to school, work or daycare.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Outbreaks of pertussis were first described in the 16th century, and the organism was first isolated in 1906.
In the 20th century, pertussis was one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of childhood mortality in the United States. Before the availability of pertussis vaccine in the 1940s, more than 200,000 cases of pertussis were reported annually. Since widespread use of the vaccine began, incidence has decreased more than 80% compared with the prevaccine era.
Pertussis remains a major health problem among children in developing countries, with 195,000 deaths resulting from the disease in 2008 (World Health Organization estimate).
B. pertussis is a small, aerobic gram-negative rod. It is fastidious and requires special media for isolation (see Laboratory Diagnosis).
B. pertussis produces multiple antigenic and biologically active products, including pertussis toxin, filamentous hemagglutinin, agglutinogens, adenylate cyclase, pertactin, and tracheal cytotoxin. These products are responsible for the clinical features of pertussis disease, and an immune response to one or more produces immunity following infection; however, immunity following B. pertussis infection does not appear to be permanent.
Pertussis is primarily a toxin-mediated disease. The bacteria attach to the cilia of the respiratory epithelial cells, produce toxins that paralyze the cilia, and cause inflammation of the respiratory tract, which interferes with the clearing of pulmonary secretions. Pertussis antigens appear to allow the organism to evade host defenses, in that lymphocytosis is promoted but chemotaxis is impaired. Until recently it was thought that B. pertussis did not invade the tissues. However, recent studies have shown the bacteria to be present in alveolar macrophages.
The incubation period of pertussis is commonly 7–10 days, with a range of 4–21 days, and rarely may be as long as 42 days. The clinical course of the illness is divided into three stages.
Pertussis is nationally-notifiable and cases should be reported to the appropriate health department. Pertussis cases are reported by states to CDC through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although many pertussis cases are not diagnosed and therefore not reported, the surveillance system is useful for monitoring epidemiologic trends. The limitations of laboratory diagnostics make the clinical case definition essential to pertussis surveillance. It is important to determine duration of cough — specifically whether it lasts 14 days or longer — in order to determine if a person's illness meets the definition of a clinical case.
A cough illness lasting at least 2 weeks with one of the following: paroxysms of coughing, inspiratory "whoop," or posttussive vomiting, without other apparent cause (as reported by a health professional).
This clinical case definition is appropriate for endemic or sporadic cases. In outbreak settings, a case may be defined as a cough illness lasting at least 2 weeks (as reported by a health professional).
Because direct fluorescent antibody testing of nasopharyngeal secretions has been demonstrated in some studies to have low sensitivity and variable specificity, such testing should not be relied on as a criterion for laboratory confirmation. Serologic testing for pertussis is available in some areas but is not standardized and, therefore, should not be relied on as a criterion for laboratory confirmation.
Probable: meets the clinical case definition, is not laboratory confirmed, and is not epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case.
Confirmed: a case that is confirmed culture positive and in which an acute cough illness of any duration is present; or a case that meets the clinical case definition and is confirmed by positive PCR; or a case that meets the clinical case definition and is epidemiologically linked directly to a case confirmed by either culture or PCR.
CDC has partnered with six states (CO, CT, MN, NM, NY, and OR) participating in the Emerging Infections Program (EIP) network to conduct enhanced surveillance of pertussis and other Bordetella species. EPS is characterized by enhanced case ascertainment and augmented data collection that goes beyond what is requested nationally through NNDSS. Participating sites collect clinical isolates and specimens, when available, for further characterization at the CDC Pertussis and Diphtheria Laboratory. EPS sites also provide the infrastructure for conducting pertussis special studies including those aimed at evaluating pertussis prevention and control strategies.