Even when school is out of session, pertussis finds ways to sicken teenagers, with recent outbreaks at summer sleep-away camps. Although whooping cough is rarely fatal in older children, the mortality rate is highest in unvaccinated infants who can catch the illness from adolescent family members or babysitters.
Society for Adolescent Medicine Takes Action
These survey results and the recent surge in pertussis outbreaks prompted SAM to launch an educational campaign for teens and their parents, called "More Than Just a Cough." The campaign also encourages parents of teens to schedule routine health visits.
"After the immunization series is completed by age six, pertussis immunization is rarely discussed at healthcare visits. Few parents realize that the protection from the pertussis immunization wears off after five to 10 years, leaving teens vulnerable to whooping cough," said Dr. Amy Middleman, assistant professor of pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine Section, Baylor College of Medicine. "Parents need to be made aware of pertussis symptoms. Because adolescents often do not exhibit the classic 'whoop' that is associated with the disease, symptoms such as a mild fever, severe coughing fits and runny nose are often mistaken for flu or the common cold. However, anyone experiencing these severe coughing fits for seven or more days should seek diagnosis by a healthcare provider."
The CDC recommends that physicians test for pertussis if patients exhibit symptoms compatible with the disease or develop an acute cough after exposure to someone who has been diagnosed. If caught early enough, antibiotics may help alleviate symptoms or limit the spr
Contact: Vilena Katanova
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