Childhood diseases – Whooping cough
Whopping cough typically affects children under one year-old but is rarely seen thanks to immunisation (in 2007 less than 150 cases in children under four years-old).
The condition is caused by a contagious bacteria called the Bordetella pertussis. If one child in a family gets whooping cough the other siblings are likely to be infected too if they haven’t had the condition before or if they haven’t received the vaccination.
Breastfeeding does give protection against whooping cough. If your child has whooping cough, keep them away from children who haven’t been vaccinated and newborn babies.
Whooping cough is contracted from airborne droplets from the cough of an infected child. From infection to outbreak takes anywhere between 5 and 15 days (sometimes longer). A child remains infectious throughout the period of the disease (which can be anything up to 8 weeks).
Symptoms of whooping cough
- Starts with a cold or irritating cough
- Coughing bouts after 1-2 weeks
- Coughing until no more air is in the lungs
- As the child inhales, a heavy ‘whooping’ sound occurs. This is the air passing over the larynx
- Coughing up phlegm
- Vomiting after coughing
- Raised temperature
- Coughing bouts on average 15 times per day (sometimes lasting 12 weeks)
Treatment for whooping cough
It is recommended that your child is vaccinated against whooping cough (consult with your GP). The condition requires no specific treatment although asthmatic children should be monitored carefully.