Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.
It causes repeated coughing bouts that can last for two to three months or more, and can make babies and young children very ill. Whooping cough is spread person to person by the breathing in contaminated droplets of the cough or sneezes of an infected person.
It is contagious from six days after exposure to three weeks after the coughing starts
The first symptoms of whooping cough are a runny nose, red and watery eyes, a sore throat, and a slightly raised temperature.
After a week, Intense coughing bouts start. These bouts usually last a few minutes at a time and tend to be more common at night. Coughing usually brings up thick mucus and may be followed by vomiting. Between coughs, you or your child may gasp for breath – this may cause a "whoop" sound, although not everyone has this.
The bouts will eventually start to become less severe and less frequent over time, but it may be a few months before they stop completely.
Treatment depends on the age of the person and severity of the disease. Early treatment with antibiotics can also be given within the first three weeks of symptoms.
Countries at risk
Tetanus is found throughout the world, so if you are travelling abroad make sure you are fully vaccinated. The bacteria are particularly prevalent in China, India, Africa, and South America. The bacteria can survive for a long time outside the body and is commonly found in soil, and the manure of animals such as horses and cows.
Babies under six months are more severely affected, complications include:
Brain damage caused by lack of oxygen reaching the brain
Older children and adults tend to have less severe complications although coughing can use nosebleeds, bruised ribs and a hernia
Whopping cough is preventable disease by vaccination. This is included in the routine childhood immunization schedule at 2,3 and 4 months and after 3 years of age. It is also offered to pregnant women to protect the newborn baby in the first few weeks of life.
Immunity to the vaccine or after a previous whopping caught infection can wane over time, therefore infection can occur, although this tends to be milder and shorter in duration. A single booster dose can be given over the age of 10 years if you have had the primary schedule or have had whooping cough in the past. This will last around 10 years.
The booster vaccines available in the UK is a combination vaccines containing dipterhia, tetanus, polio and pertussis.
The booster vaccines available in the UK is a combination vaccines containing diphtheria, tetanus, polio and pertussis.
Who needs the booster vaccine?
The booster dose for whopping cough can be given to individuals over 10 years of age if they are:
Pregnant to protect the newborn baby
Travelling to an area of pertussis outbreak and the last vaccine was more than 10 years ago
Exposed to whopping caught and last vaccine was more than 5 years ago
Travelling to USA for studying or work purposes
Travelling to Australia for work or visiting a new born baby
Meningitis ACWY For Hajj/Umrah
Meningitis symptoms can develop quickly and they can be difficult to spot as they as similar to symptoms of flu. Infection with meningitis is an emergency and requires admission into a hospital where you will be given antibiotics. All pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah are required to show proof of vaccination in the last three years against meningitis ACWY.
Vaccination is required at least 10 days before you are due to travel and you will also receive a certificate as part of your vaccination.