Eradicating Pertussis

explanatory Essay
677 words
677 words

Eradicating Pertussis- The whooping cough

What is Pertussis?
Pertussis is a respiratory infection that is highly contagious, caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis that only affects humans. This bacteria attaches to the lining of the airways of the upper respiratory system and releases toxins that lead to inflammation and swelling. It is commonly known as the whooping cough. It is widely known for its uncontrollable, violent coughing which makes it difficult for the person infected to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone infected with this disease often needs to take deep breathes, which result in a “whooping” sound.
The first outbreaks of whooping cough were described in the 16th century. However, the bacterium that is responsible for this infection was not identified until 1906. In the pre-vaccination area (during the 1920s and 30s), over 250,000 cases of pertussis were reported each year in the U.S., with up to 9,000 deaths. In the 1940s the pertussis vaccine, combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DTP), was introduced. By 1976 whooping cough had been reduced by over 99% in the United States.

Why target Pertussis?
This disease most commonly affects infants and young children. If left untreated it can lead to complications such as pneumonia and seizures. It also can be fatal, especially in children less than a year old. Before a vaccine for this disease was available, the Whooping Cough killed nearly 5,000-10,000 people in the United States each year.
In the 1980s, just years after the occurrence of pertussis had decreased over 99%, whooping cough outbreaks began to increase and rise steadily. Three noticeably epidemics that have occurred since, have been in 2005 with 25,616 cases, in 2008 with 13,000 c...

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...t the vaccine is most effective in preventing severe disease and may have little impact in acquiring the infection, preventing mild disease, and decreasing transmission to other individuals. Another reason is the vaccine requires multiple doses for protection. A final reason is because pertussis is difficult to diagnose in the first stage, when it is the most contagious.
Another thing to keep in mind when thinking of ways eradication of pertussis is the cost. Currently the estimated costs to eliminate or eradicate pertussis is unknown. This is because and an effective strategy has not yet been developed. The benefits to eradication are also difficult to estimate in the absence of accurate data on the true disease burden in all age groups in many countries. However, with increasing cases of pertussis, eradication would allow an end of vaccination against pertussis.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that pertussis can be prevented by immunization with the vaccine for diphtheria and tetanus. however, the immunity given through this vaccine wears over time, making teenagers and adults susceptible to whooping cough.
  • Explains that bordetella pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that only affects humans. the first outbreaks of whooping cough were described in the 16th century, but the bacterium was not identified until 1906.
  • Explains that pertussis is highly contagious, and is acquired by breathing in the bacteria that is present in humidity released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
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