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Hawaii’s whooping cough alarm: Unvaccinated family’s struggle exposes silent threat!

Visual Representation for an pertussis infected child | Credits: Getty Images

United States: Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has once again gripped the United States – recently, five confirmed cases have been reported by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).

The preliminary information by the health authorities has revealed that all five cases have been found in the same family, including a child – who is seeking treatment in a hospital. It is to be noted that all five cases were unvaccinated.

While sharing the travel update of the family, the health experts mentioned that all the infected family members visited the United States mainland and stayed at a hotel accommodation on O’ahu.

Investigation by the CDC and Hawaii DOH

The local health experts have mentioned that the Department of Health of Hawaii has been working jointly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the recently reported cases. Recently, the Department has been investigating to notify the travelers who are possibly exposed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

However, the Department has also outlined that the family did not contact anyone after reaching Hawaii, according to Hawaii Department of Health.

Whooping cough and its cases in Hawaii

During the time span of 2019 to 2023, Hawaii has reported as many as 89 confirmed as well as portable cases of whooping cough. Out of the total, 28 cases were linked to three (3) outbreaks.

As per the health experts, the before the current case, the last case was reported last year, in the month of March.

How is Pertussis explained?

According to health experts, Pertussis or whooping cough is caused because of bacteria. The disease is highly contagious respiratory, which causes severe coughing fits followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in.

Visual Representation for pertussis virus | Credits: Google Images

Infants are most likely to get a severe infection, if they get infected with the bacteria. Some of the complications faced by a child include dehydration, pneumonia, brain damage, and seizures. The experts have highlighted that the infants did not cough. Instead, they may experience apnea or struggle to breathe.

Vaccines against whooping cough!

As the cases linked to whooping cough have been increasing, the experts have been asking the general public to get up to date recommended vaccine against whooping cough. The most common vaccination used in the United States to prevent whooping cough are DTaP and Tdap. Accordingly, DTaP is for children aged under seven (7), and Tdap is administered to the younger population, including children, teens, and adults. In case of pregnant women, Tdap can be taken during the third trimester of pregnancy – which helps to protect the infant from the infection.

Vials of Tdap vaccine | Credits: Getty Images

What are the common symptoms of the disease?

According to the health experts, if an individual will be diagnosed with whooping cough, he/she will experience symptoms, including:

  • Struggling to breathe
  • Turning blue or purple
  • Runny nose
  • Fever, and
  • Continuous coughing.

The health expert suggests that the medication against infection must start as soon as the first symptoms are detected, resulting in less severity of the disease.

Besides this, the health agency has asked the people to follow all the precautionary measures, contributing towards the decline in the spread of the bacteria. Some of the precautions which must be followed are:

  • Cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing,
  • Don’t directly cough into the hand; use a tissue or upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Wash your hand frequently – with the help of soap and water.
  • Continuously use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – when soap and water are unavailable.

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