As the upcoming school year nears, Maryland public health officials are urging parents to have their children immunized against communicable diseases, including pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
The Maryland Department of Health said in the first six months of 2017, whooping cough, a respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, cases increased by 15 percent. Only one confirmed cases has been reported this year.
In 2016, 136 probable or confirmed cases of whooping cough were recorded in Maryland.
“It could be a sign of the emergence of something we had thoroughly tamped down and if it flares up, it could have various serious health implications,” said University of Maryland professor Don Kettl. “We need to take care and make sure doesn’t become a larger trend.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whooping cough typically develops within five to 10 of exposure. In some cases, the onset of symptoms may be delayed for up to three weeks. In the early stages of the disease symptoms are typically mild to moderate, including runny nose, low-grade fever, occasional cough and apnea. Early symptoms can last up to two weeks, but not as long in those who have been vaccinated.
Later-state symptoms – “high-pitched whoop” cough, vomiting, fatigue and coughing fits – are more severe and can last up to two weeks. Coughing fits have been known to linger around for up to 10 weeks or longer, according to the CDC.
While DTaP and Tdap vaccines work, they are not 100 percent effective, as it has been diagnosed in those vaccinated, but vaccines can reduce the severity of the symptoms.