Pertussis starts with a runny nose, mild fever and cough and progresses to severe spasms of coughing that can interfere with eating, drinking and breathing. The coughing attacks occur more frequently at night and can last for several weeks. Pertussis is spread by coughing and sneezing and is highly contagious. Although most people recover, complications can be severe, especially for the very young, the elderly and those with health issues impacting the immune system.
Pertussis is a vaccine preventable disease. Children should be vaccinated at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months and again between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Boosters should be given between ages 11 and 12 and adults through age 64 should boost their decreasing immunity by receiving the combined vaccination for tetanus, diptheria and pertussis.
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