By: Rosli Mansor Ahmad Razali
The pertussis outbreak, also known as whooping cough, involving four family members living in a house in Alor Gajah recently, has garnered widespread attention.
Now, this potentially fatal epidemic is spreading among the community.
The truth of this statement was reinforced when one acquaintance contacted the writer, informing them that the entire family had to undergo self-quarantine after being confirmed to have contracted this epidemic.
However, the public must remain vigilant and not take the transmission of this disease lightly.
Every one of us should be aware that whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation, and seizures, and it easily spreads within the community.
The most concerning aspect is the possibility of this epidemic spreading among schoolchildren.
Therefore, parents, in particular, must be alert and knowledgeable about how it spreads, as well as the early symptoms and preventive measures.
Whooping cough is a preventable vaccine-preventable disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, which infects the mouth, nose, and throat and spreads through the air when the patient sneezes or coughs.
Babies and children who have not received complete immunization are at the highest risk of infection, but it can also affect anyone regardless of age, especially the elderly, people with disabilities (OKU) and those with weakened immunity.
Common symptoms of pertussis include prolonged coughing for one to two weeks, which may persist for up to two months.
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
Some signs include a runny nose, stuffy nose with mucus, watery eyes, fever, and coughing.
After one or two weeks, the signs and symptoms become severe. Severe and prolonged coughing may trigger vomiting, cause the face to turn red or blue, and lead to extreme exhaustion.
This ends with a high-pitched ‘whoop’ sound while breathing.
What increases the risk of getting whooping cough?
The vaccine you received as a child is no longer effective.
Your child is within the period of receiving the vaccine. They are not fully immune until they receive at least three doses.
What lifestyle and ancillary measures should be practised to prevent whooping cough?
You must ensure adequate hydration by drinking enough water, juice, and soup. Eating smaller meals can help prevent vomiting after coughing.
Clean the surrounding air, eliminating cough stimulants such as tobacco, smoke, and fumes from burning.
Cover your mouth while coughing and always wash your hands to prevent the infection from spreading.