Montana Health News

Jan 28, 2013 10:58 AM by MTN News

Protect yourself from whooping cough

BUTTE - Influenza has been getting all of the attention this winter season, but Butte health care providers do not want the community to forget about pertussis, more commonly known as whopping cough.

There are three phases to whooping cough, according to Kirwan Webb MD at Rocky Mountain Express Care. The first phase is almost indistinguishable from a common cold with fever, chills and a cough.

"Excessive coughing, like you cough five or six times in one breath or when you inhale from a cough you get the characteristic whoop," Webb said. "That's usually seen more in little kids or you get coughing so badly you start throwing up."

The last phase is a convalescent phase, which can last up to two to three months.

Similar to the flu, whooping cough is spread through aerosolization of bronchial secretions, according to Webb. Health care providers recommend staying home if you feel ill.

"You should wash your hands frequently," Webb said. "You should avoid sharing things with people who are actively ill and just maintain good health attitudes towards communicable diseases this time of year."

A vaccine is available for children and adults. Doctors recommend people between the ages of 19 and 64 get a whopping cough booster shot.

This winter season Butte-Silver Bow has had no confirmed cases of whooping cough. The last epidemic was about five years ago, according to Webb when nearly 50 students were ill at East Middle School.

"We've had a couple people come over from Anaconda who have been exposed, but we haven't seen any actual whopping cough yet," Webb said.

Whooping cough is easily treatable with antibiotics, according to Webb.

"If you had been exposed to somebody who you suspect might have whopping cough, it's probably best to contact your health care provider," Webb said.

The best thing you can do is avoid people with whopping cough symptoms and make sure you are properly vaccinated.

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