ua en ru

Pertussis and its symptoms: How to prevent disease

Pertussis and its symptoms: How to prevent disease Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system. The illness is known for severe coughing fits that can last for months. It is crucial to know how to protect your child in a timely manner, according to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Doc.ua.

About the disease

Pertussis is often confused with a common cold, as it exhibits weak coughing, fever, and discomfort. However, it should not be underestimated.

Coughing during pertussis can last for about 8 weeks and may be accompanied by apnea (temporary cessation of breathing movements).

Common complications of the disease include pneumonia, and less frequently, seizures and brain damage. The younger the child, the more dangerous whooping cough is for them.

Ways to get infected

The primary source of pertussis infection in the natural environment is humans. The risk of infection when in contact with a carrier of the pertussis bacterium is 90%.

Upon the first exposure to the infection, the body does not develop natural immune protection against whooping cough, making reinfection possible, often in a milder form of the disease. People who have had pertussis or have been vaccinated against it can carry pertussis.

How to protect your child

Preventing pertussis is possible through vaccination, as outlined in the schedule of preventive vaccinations. Vaccinations are free and administered to children at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months (four doses).

If, for any reason, a child misses a vaccination, it should be caught up as soon as possible, as an unvaccinated child is at higher risk of contracting pertussis and suffering serious health consequences in emergency situations.

It is also important for all pregnant women to get vaccinated against pertussis, regardless of whether they were vaccinated in childhood. The best time to do this is during the second or third trimester, ideally between 16 and 32 weeks, during each pregnancy.

This is necessary to protect the child from pertussis in the first months of their life, before they are vaccinated against the disease.

Immunization annually saves over 3 million people from death due to diseases such as diphtheria, typhoid, pertussis, flu, and measles. So take care of your child and protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases!