Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pertussis on the Rise

News articles are saying that pertussis is becoming more common.  Most articles urge people to get their children vaccinated, but most current information also says that the vaccine is not 100% effective, and that it wears off, so most people over the age of 18 are not immune, even if they were immunized as children.

I went looking for information about pertussis that might be helpful in the field. We aren't going to be treating it, but it would be good if we could recognize it, in order to both get that information to other healthcare providers for our patients, and to protect ourselves and therefore our families.

First, there is a page that has an audio file, so you can recognize the characteristic "whoop" of the disease. That said, it's important to know that not all patients will have that symptom. Once you hear it, you won't forget it. If your patient sounds like that, it is a near-definite diagnosis, but if they don't sound that way, you won't know if they have pertussis or not.

The CDC has a whole section about pertussis, and Wild Iris Medical Education has a Pertussis CME class online. You can read through the class for free; it's $6 to take the test and get credit. Both of those have an extensive list of references and resources.

Medscape also has an overview of pertussis information.

Hopefully, you won't run into it in the field, but as the number of cases rises, it's always possible.

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