It’s common to think of whooping cough as a childhood disease. But in fact, pertussis – widely known as whooping cough – can also disrupt an adults daily life, causing coughing for months, which may affect social, family and professional life.
Pertussis remains a significant public health problem around the world including Australia. Wedding speeches, movies, work presentations, and that one chance to talk to “Hot Steve” alone in the print room… not ideal situations to unleash an uncontrollable cough.
50% of pertussis cases occurred in adults.
Do you have a cough that you just can’t shake? Maybe a friend or family member whose cough has lingered just a little too long? While most people are aware of whooping cough, it is widely believed that it only affects babies.
But whooping cough does not discriminate – adults can get it too.
face the facts...
- Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
- Pertussis has been diagnosed across all ages in adulthood, not just elderly populations.
It’s estimated that a person infected with pertussis may spread it to FIVE unvaccinated people.
Pertussis is underdiagnosed because the symptoms in adults are not easy to distinguish from other respiratory illnesses.
When an infected person coughs, pertussis spreads through the air and bacteria are released into their surroundings. In this way, pertussis can spread easily to other family members, friends and workmates. Big family? Big problems.
face the facts...
- Pertussis is most infectious at the beginning of the illness and in the first two weeks after the cough begins - a period of approximately 3 weeks.
- If you introduce pertussis to a household, susceptible members of the household have a 90% chance of getting the infection.
An average of 10 work days is lost due to pertussis.
Thinking of chucking a sickie… or 10? Sure, it sounds great! But add a side of pertussis and you’ll wish you were back at work, forced to sit through the montage of Christmas family photos with Kathy from Finance… pick your battles.
facts are facts
- A 2018 survey found that Australian adults with an extreme persistent cough* felt they were less productive than usual for an average of 7 days after returning to work.
- Pertussis is highly contagious – it could spread faster than office gossip. Whooping cough is spread by droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you breathe it in.
Did you know 80% of Australian adults are currently not protected from pertussis?
The immunity you acquired as a child – from either vaccination or exposure to pertussis – diminishes over time, leaving adults at risk.
And like a heavyweight boxer, the cough caused by pertussis can really pack a punch. Pertussis may cause severe coughing bouts, which in turn can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. We don’t know how many rounds of that we could endure!
face the facts...
- Only 1 in 5 adults^ recall being vaccinated against pertussis in the last 10 years.
- Pertussis can be prevented by vaccination.
- Speak to your healthcare professional about adult immunisation and how you can protect yourself from pertussis.
Adults with pertussis may have a persistent cough for up to 3 months.
This isn’t a drill. But this isn’t your standard cough either. In China, pertussis is known as the “100 days cough” due to the prolonged, dry and persistent cough that is experienced by infected individuals. That’s a long time to be hacking up a lung.
so, what am a looking for?
- It all starts with cold-like symptoms, such as a blocked or runny nose, tiredness, mild fever and a cough.
- As the disease progresses, the cough worsens, and can develop into severe bouts of uncontrollable coughing (with the added bonus of awkward social and romantic situations.)
- The classic 'whooping' sound is a high-pitched wheezing sound made when a person gasps for breath after a severe coughing attack. However, the whoop may be absent in adults with pertussis.
TOOT YOUR OWN HORN – GET PROTECTED
Pertussis is not just a “kid thing”. Adults need protection too. Pertussis can be disruptive to every aspect of your life, and does not discriminate – anyone can get it.
Know the signs and talk to your GP about pertussis and its prevention. Click below to find out more information about pertussis and how you can protect yourself, friends, family and co-workers.