The Mpumalanga Department of Health has observed an increase of Pertussis – commonly known as “whooping cough” amongst children younger than 5 years of age, and particularly among those younger than a year old.
To date, the department has reported 13 cases across the province. Pertussis is a highly contagious illness and vaccine-preventable disease caused by a germ known as Bordetella pertussis, reported Witbank News.
The disease is spread when a person with pertussis sneezes, coughs, or breathes. The germs that cause pertussis lives within a sick person’s nose, mouth, and throat and are in droplets of mucus or saliva. A person can get pertussis when droplets from the sick person get into the mouth, nose or eyes.
The main signs and symptoms of pertussis are as follows:
Initial signs and symptoms are similar to the common cold and thus may include nasal congestion, runny nose, mild sore throat, mild dry cough, and minimal or no fever.
Days later, the cough can become more severe and is characterised by episodes of paroxysms (severe attacks of coughing) followed by a whooping sound and/or vomiting. A paroxysmal cough may last 1 to 2 months.
Adolescents and adults who are previously vaccinated may also present differently with minimal symptoms such as a sore throat or a persistent cough.
The public is advised to be on the high alert if anyone or a child is experiencing or developing cold-like symptoms, including a cough and runny nose, to immediately consult the nearest health facility to get medical help.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with pertussis by a doctor or healthcare facility should avoid mixing with other people especially infants and pregnant women to prevent the further spread of the disease.