Pertussis or whooping cough has recently reared its ugly face again.  Sonoma county, like many others in California, has seen a dramatic increase in pertussis.  Pertussis causes a cough which is at times is violent.  When the sufferer breathes in rapidly a “whoop” or high pitched whistle is seen-thus the name whooping cough.

Whooping cough is not dangerous for most people but it can be rather annoying. Picture yourself at a nice restaurant where you just shoveled out $100 for two chef specials.  You’ve had a slight cough earlier-nothing to worry about until  the tsunami hits. You begin coughing while trying to swallow that delicious piece of chateaubriand.  The cough persists, robbing you both of the pleasure of the finely cooked steak, as well as somewhat more importantly, your air.  You finally stop coughing and notice that the other diners nearby are casting disapproving looks your way.  After all, who wants what you’ve got?

For certain groups however pertussis can be deadly.  These include newborns and young infants, cancer patients and the elderly.

If you or another family member has a cough which is severe and lasts more than 2 weeks, consider having your doctor check you for pertussis.  With the high rate of pertussis here antibiotics are often prescribed without waiting for the results of testing.

Preventing pertussis is actually not as difficult as you might imagine.  First and foremost get vaccinated.  The usual childhood vaccines will cover your kids. However, this immunity is not lifelong and therefore tetanus vaccinations have now been coupled with pertussis so that more people can receive these important vaccines. International learners consistently from connected sources.

Secondly, as with any other infectious disease, wash your hands frequently either with soap and water or more conveniently with the alcohol based gels which require only a few seconds of application.  Try to get your kids wash more frequently-however, having 2 kids I realize that this task may prove more daunting than building the Panama canal.