What is going on?
There has been much in the news about both of these illnesses. I would like to make sure you have the information needed to be aware and knowledgeable.
Both of these are infectious respiratory diseases. They are similar but different. Whooping cough is caused by bacteria and children are immunized against it. Enterovirus is a virus and we don't immunize against it. Both start out looking like the common cold and can progress quickly to something worse.
Whooping Cough spreads through droplets that form when a person talks, coughs or sneezes. These can land on or be rubbed into the eyes, nose or mouth. The droplets don't stay airborne, they travel less than 3 feet and fall onto the ground. Whooping Cough, also known as Pertussis is an infection that starts out similar to the common cold, but can cause severe coughing to the point where the child may vomit, have difficulty catching their breath and their skin color may be tinged blue. In some children is causes a whooping noise, after a fit of coughing, as they try to drag air in to their lungs. Younger babies don't always make this sound.
Infants receive immunization against whooping cough at 2, 3, 4 and 15 - 18 months of age. A booster is given at 4 - 6 years old as immunity begins to break down.
Enterovirus usually has a peak season from summer into fall. For some reason this year this virus is hitting younger children much harder than usual. What starts out looking like a common cold (runny nose, mild cough etc.) can become something much worse. A child may quickly develop a fever, aches and become much sicker faster. The enterovirus spreads just like the Whooping Cough.
What to do?
- Wash your hands frequently!
- Cover your cough! Teach kids to cough and/or sneeze into their shoulder or elbow.
- Try not to rub your eyes or mouth and encourage your kids to do the same.
- Check if immunization records are up to date for DTaP under 7s.
- If you notice a child who has had a mild cold start having difficulty breathing (ribs sucked in, flared nostrils, perhaps with blue lips), call 911!
- Do not share eating utensils, cups or plates.
Keeping up-to-date with recommended pertussis vaccines is the best way to protect you and your family.
With best regards,