“This case highlights the need to review your family’s immunization records and make sure everyone’s immunizations are up-to-date,” said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. Children should receive the DTaP immunization against pertussis at two, four, six and fifteen months and again between ages four and six years. “The protection received from pertussis vaccinations administered in childhood begins to wear off after five to ten years, leaving preteens, teenagers, and adults at risk,” Meyerson said. “The best way to help prevent preteens and teenagers from catching whooping cough is to make sure they receive a booster shot called Tdap.”
All preteens and teenagers should receive a single Tdap booster between age 11 and 18. Adults up to age 65 can also get the Tdap booster to reduce their risk of getting whooping cough.
Whooping cough starts with a runny nose, mild fever, and mild cough, similar to a common cold. Then symptoms progress to severe spasms of coughing that can interfere with eating, drinking, and breathing. Infants and younger children often have more severe symptoms than older children, adolescents, and adults.
Anyone with whooping cough should stay home and away from public activities, including school, daycare, and work, to avoid exposing others. “They should be treated with certain antibiotic medications,” Meyerson said. “If given early enough, antibiotics can limit the spread of whooping cough to others. A course of preventive antibiotic therapy may also be recommended for other members of the household and other close contacts of a person being treated for whooping cough.”In addition to making sure immunizations are up-to-date, everyone can help prevent the spread of whooping cough by taking the following precautions: