Friday, July 8, 2011

What is the treatment for whooping cough?

Whooping Cough
Antibiotics directed against Bordetella pertussis can be effective in reducing the severity of whooping cough when administered early in the course of the disease.

Antibiotic therapy can also help reduce the risk of transmission of the bacterium to other household members as well as to others who may come into contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, most people with whooping cough are diagnosed later with the condition in the second (paroxysmal) stage of the disease. Treatment with antibiotics is recommended for anyone who has had the disease for less than three to four weeks. Azithromycin (Zithromax), clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, PCE, Pediazole, Ilosone), and trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra) are antibiotics which have been shown to be effective in treating whooping cough. It is unclear whether antibiotics have any benefit for people who have been ill with whooping cough for longer than three to four weeks, although antibiotic therapy still is often considered for this group. There is no proven effective treatment for the paroxysms of coughing that accompany whooping cough.

Antibiotics also are routinely administered to people who have had close contact with an infected person, regardless of their vaccination status.

What are possible complications of whooping cough?

The most common complication and the cause of most whooping cough-related deaths is secondary bacterial pneumonia. (Secondary bacterial pneumonia is bacterial pneumonia that follows another infection of the lung, be it viral or bacterial. Secondary pneumonia is caused by a different virus or bacterium than the original infection.) Young infants are at highest risk for whooping cough and also for its associated complications, including secondary pneumonia. Other possible complications of whooping cough, particularly in infants less than 6 months of age, include seizures, encephalopathy (abnormal function of the brain due to decreased oxygen delivery to the brain caused by the episodes of coughing), reactive airway disease (asthma), dehydration, hearing loss, and malnutrition.

Data indicate that secondary pneumonia occurs in about one out of every 20 infants with whooping cough, and one out of 100 affected infants develop convulsions.

Whooping cough can cause serious illness and even death in young children; 10 children died from the infection in 2007. From 2004-2005, 66 deaths due to whooping cough were reported to the CDC, and 56 of these were children under 3 months of age. In 2008, 18 deaths due to whooping cough were reported in the U.S. Most deaths from whooping cough have occurred in children who have not been vaccinated or who are too young to have received the vaccine.

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