I lost a patient this season, an infant, to whooping cough (pertussis). After falling ill, he lived for nearly a month in the intensive care unit on a ventilator, three weeks of which was spent on a heart/lung bypass machine (ECMO) due to the extent of the damage to his lungs. But all our efforts were in vain. The most aggressive and advanced care medicine has to offer couldn’t save his life. The only thing that could have saved him would have been to prevent him from contracting pertussis in the first place.
He was unvaccinated, but that was because of his age. He was part of the population that is fully dependent on herd immunity for protection, and that is exquisitely prone to a life-threatening course once infected. This is a topic we’ve covered ad nauseum, and I’m not inclined to go into greater depth in this post. Suffice it to say his death is a failure at every level. We, both as medical professionals and as a society at large, need to do a better job of protecting our children from preventable diseases. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*
California recently declared an epidemic of whooping cough (pertussis) which resulted in the death of five infants under the age of 3 months. The pertussis vaccine, which is already given routinely to infants, is first given at 2 months of age, then 4 months and 6 months of age, with an additional booster at 15 to 18 months of age, and then again at 4 to 6 years old.
The vaccines for Bortella pertussis bacteria, which causes whooping cough, does not confer lifelong immunity. In other words, fully-vaccinated children who then become teenagers and then adults lose immunity, can acquire the infection and then spread it. Should babies acquire pertussis, as the public has discovered, it can be deadly. The persistent cough tires the baby, causes difficulty breathing, and can make them turn blue or cyanotic resulting in pneumonia or convulsions. According to CDC, about half of children aged 1 year and younger need to be hospitalized if infected with the illness. Although older children and adults can handle the cough, the infection can cause them to cough for weeks or months. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*