The Mpumalanga Department of Health has observed an increase of Pertussis – commonly known as “Whooping cough” amongst children aged less than 5 years of age and particularly amongst ages less than a year old.
To date the department has reported 13 cases across the province. Pertussis is a highly contagious illness and vaccine-preventable disease caused by a germ known as Bordella pertussis.
The disease is spread when a person with pertussis sneezes, coughs or breathes. The germs that causes pertussis lives in a sick person’s nose, mouth and throat and are in droplets of mucous or saliva. A person can get pertussis when droplets from the sick person get into your mouth, nose or eyes.
The main signs and symptoms of pertussis are as follows:
Initial signs and symptoms are similar to the common cold and may include nasal congestion, runny nose, mild sore throat, mild dry cough and minimal or no fever.
Days later, the cough can become more severe and is characterised by episodes of paroxysms (severe attacks of coughing) followed by a whooping sound and/or vomiting after coughing. Paroxysmal cough may last 1 to 2 months.
Adolescents and adults who are previously vaccinated may also present differently with minimal symptoms such as a sore throat or persistent cough.
The public is advised to be on the high alert if anyone or a child is experiencing or developing cold like symptoms including cough and runny nose, to immediately consult the nearest health facility to get medical help.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with pertussis by a doctor or health care facility should avoid mixing with other people especially infants and pregnant women to prevent the further spread of the disease.