Taking a Look at Pertussis

3365 WordsFeb 3, 201813 Pages
INTRODUCTION: Pertussis is an extremely contagious infection of the respiratory tract that results in the greatest mortality and morbidity in children. The infection is caused by Bordetella pertussis, a gram-negative bacterium that settles and replicates in the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract resulting in adhesions and severe coughing episodes. Pertussis is also known as “whooping cough” and is characterized by three chronological stages: the catarrhal, paroxysmal, and convalescent stages. The initial signs of infection occur in the catarrhal stage and consist of upper respiratory tract symptoms such as rhinitis, sneezing, cough, and low-grade fever. The paroxysmal stage follows approximately two to four weeks later and is described by paroxysms of ten to thirty coughs ending with the classic “whoop” secondary to the loud inspiration. During this stage vomiting frequently occurs after the paroxysms and the most severe paroxysms occur at nighttime. If pertussis lingers untreated the paroxysm stage may remain present up to three months. The last stage is the convalescent stage and this is usually when the symptoms of pertussis fade. Pertussis is commonly spread during the catarrhal and early paroxysmal stages and unfortunately the population with the highest risk of infection is young children. Children less than one year are at highest risk of infection and death secondary to pertussis because at this age they have not received the recommended
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