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February 2008, Volume 38 Number 2 , p 22 - 23


  • Elizabeth Heavey RN, CNM, PhD


Heavey, Elizabeth RN, CNM, PhD

Elizabeth Heavey is an assistant professor of nursing at the State University of New York College at Brockport.

PERTUSSIS, OR WHOOPING COUGH, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract that can last for several months. It can also lead to serious complications and even death, especially in infants. In this article, I'll tell you how to recognize pertussis, why it's on the rise, and new steps to prevent it.

Whooping, but not for joy

A patient with pertussis may have signs and symptoms of the common cold or none at all—but he's still contagious and may be actively spreading the disease to close contacts. Symptomatic patients have a cough, typically with an inspiratory whoop , beginning 5 to 21 days after exposure to contaminated respiratory droplets. The cough usually progressively worsens, occurs more frequently at night, and may induce vomiting or cyanosis. ...

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