May 27, 2011

Whoop...Whoop...Whoop?


I added this just for visual interest--it's a wallhanging from years ago!

Whoop whoop.....Whooping Cough...Pertussis....when was the last time you had a shot?  I know this sounds like a public service announcement, but if you are like me, it was back in grade school.  And if you are like me, you believe it is only important for little kids to have the shots as they are the most at risk.  And that is partially true--it IS a deadly serious disease for babies.

But, what no one tells you is what it is like to have whooping cough as an adult.  

My sister (significantly over 40, if not a higher number) now has lab confirmed Whooping Cough.  She went to her doctor for what she thought was bronchitis, but the antibiotic he prescribed was not effective for Whooping Cough, so she got sicker and sicker, developed pleurisy and then pneumonia.  She had asked him for a whooping cough test, but he scoffed and said she didn't have it--that they rarely see it--that she likely had a virus.  After three weeks off work, in awful pain like that of a broken rib from the pleurisy, she finally demanded that labs be run. 

My sister in happier days (and old unsafe crib)

And it is now confirmed to be Whooping Cough.  It is too late for the antibiotics to help her, although they will help minimize further spread (beyond the drug store, grocery store, hospital, work office and doctor's office that she has already coughed her way about).  She (and now her husband who also caught it) have made several trips to the emergency room for trouble breathing and the bills will be BIG.  Plus lost work hours.....and they are still both very sick.

So what no one tells you is that Whooping Cough for an adult means you can't sleep much because of constant coughing, you can't breathe easily,  you feel terrible, you have expensive medical costs, and you shouldn't/can't go to work (or anywhere).  AND it lasts for FOUR TO SIX WEEKS!!!   FOUR TO SIX WEEKS of being really sick is a long, long time!

According to the local health dept. epidemiologist (who I just spent 30 minutes talking with), a Pertussis shot for adults became available about five years ago.  If you last had shots as a child and are now an adult, you need this shot--any resistance from your childhood shots is likely gone.  Also be aware that the shots (even the full set of children's shots) do not work in about 15% of the population. 

You could help avoid passing it to someone for whom the shot didn't work by getting a shot of your own.  Your lovely babies or grand babies, despite being fully immunized, may still be at risk, and you could expose them unnecessarily.  Even if you've already had Whooping Cough, you need the shot because you can get it again--and again.  Also, people over 64 are not given the shot, so they depend upon you not to spread it to them.

So, if you have people you care about, or if you just want to be responsible, or even if you just have better things to do with 4-6 weeks of your time, I strongly recommend you get the shot.   Whooping Cough doesn't look at all fun to have, and just think of all the quilting time you would miss!

(I got my shot this morning.  In case mine doesn't work, please get yours soon too! )   ;)

3 comments:

LynCC said...

Your poor sister!! :( Wow. Sounds as awful (lengthwise) as finding out you have Mono.

Cathy said...

Oh Donna that sounds horrible, what a nasty time your sister has had. Thanks for the info. xo

Exuberant Color said...

I had whooping cough when I was about 3 years old. I wonder if I built up an immunity for it.