California is currently in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic. The California Department of Public Health released a statement announcing that more than 3,400 new cases have been reported this year between January 1 and June 10. So far Los Angeles has experienced about 350 new cases, with Long Beach being hit especially hard. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is known for violent, uncontrollable coughing that makes breathing extremely difficult and is followed by a “whooping” sound. It is airborne and very contagious. Considering this current health crisis, it is wise to be aware of the signs and symptoms of whooping cough and to educate yourself on how to prevent infection.
Signs & Symptoms
• Begins with cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose and mild cough or fever.
• Severe coughing begins after 1-2 weeks.
• Fits of rapid, uncontrollable coughing followed by a high-pitched “whoop”.
• Vomiting and exhaustion may result from these fits.
• If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Your doctor will most likely prescribe you an antibiotic to treat the infection. However, treatment becomes more difficult after three weeks of infection and could potentially require hospitalization.
• The best way to prevent infection is vaccination. You probably received the DTaP vaccination as a child, however this vaccination does not guarantee lifetime immunity.
• Get another dose of the DTaP vaccine instead of a regular tetanus booster.
• Practice thorough hand-washing
• Avoid anyone with the symptoms listed above
If you have the USC Student Health Insurance Plan, the DTaP vaccination is covered by your plan. Without USC Student Health Insurance, the vaccine costs $47. Visit our Immunization Clinic on the first floor of the Engemann Student Health Center to get vaccinated.
For more information on whooping cough, visit http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/index.html.