About whooping cough (PERTUSSIS)
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a contagious bacterial infection. It continues to be a public health concern even in countries with high vaccination coverage.
Estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that in 2008, about 16 million cases of pertussis occurred worldwide. Ninety-five per cent of these were in developing countries, and about 195,000 children died from the disease.
Following an incubation period of nine to 10 days (range six to 20 days), patients develop catarrhal symptoms including cough. In the course of one to two weeks, coughing paroxysms ending in the characteristic whoop may occur. Infants tend to become more severely ill with pertussis. It's called whooping cough because it can cause a child to cough so hard and so fast that he runs out of breath and must inhale deeply, making a "whooping" sound.
For several decades, infant immunisation programmes using pertussis vaccines of documented quality have been highly successful in preventing severe pertussis in infants all over the world.
The main aim of pertussis vaccination is to reduce the risk of severe pertussis in infancy.
Jamaican children are routinely given the DPT vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. It is given at birth, three months, five months, 18 months and four to six years.