Monday, November 1, 2010

Pertussis Epidemic or Whooped-Up Media Hype?

Do you know that many infants. children and adults will have a cough this winter?  Very, very few of them will actually have pertussis.  The "whooping cough threat" is just a media and health department exaggeration, saying it is an epidemic is totally inaccurate.

First of all, pertussis is a long, miserable disease and rarely is dangerous to very young babies.  Most people are not actually tested for the bacteria - it is assumed or treated as such.  There are other bacteria like, Parapertussis (rarely dangerous) that is not in the vaccine which may account for these illnesses.  Also RSV and lots of other viruses are more common causes of fall/winter sickness.

So when it is "reported" that someone died of pertussis it is difficult to confirm due to the inaccuracy of the diagnosis.  Media also needs to report that these deaths are usually exclusively in the underprivilaged families.  There should be open dialog from public health officials regarding risks of winter illness instead of cross-the-board scare tactics.

Don't panic and be "sucked in" by sensationalized media stories.  Just  use common sense:
breastfeed, eat healthy food, stay well hydrated, avoid crowds when practical, wash your hands and relax!

Remember, we all have an immune system which is in place to help us when we get sick.  Chances are, it will happen eventually.  This is normal, not harmful.  Sometimes I think it's purpose is to say, slow down, stop what you are doing and get some much needed rest!