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Whooping cough in infants: Often difficult for parents to identify
As the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recently reported, the number of whooping cough infections in Germany has risen to a new high. The childhood disease, which also occurs in adults, is particularly dangerous for infants. But the disease is often difficult to detect, especially in babies.
Particularly dangerous for infants
Whooping cough (pertussis) occurs all year round, but the infections are generally somewhat more common in autumn and winter. In Germany, an unusually large number of people have recently become infected. The number of infections rose to a new high last year. The childhood disease, which also occurs in adults, is particularly dangerous for infants. However, it is often difficult for babies to recognize the disease.
Small children often do not show a typical clinical picture
Whooping cough initially shows flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, mild cough, weakness and only moderate or no fever at all.
Then there are seizure-like coughing attacks, followed by inspiratory pulling, which is associated with the typical wheezing.
Whooping cough is usually difficult to detect in adults and babies. Infants often do not show a corresponding clinical picture. Therefore, it is sometimes very difficult for parents to tell whether their offspring is suffering from whooping cough.
Shortness of breath is a typical sign in babies
Not all of the affected toddlers cough, as the professional association of pediatricians explains in a message from the dpa news agency.
Accordingly, shortness of breath is a typical sign in infants. The little ones turn red, gasp for breath and get blue lips. In the worst case, the breath temporarily stops.
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), infants also have the highest risk of suffering serious complications.
In the case of unvaccinated infants under the age of six months, hospital treatment is particularly often required and almost all deaths affect this age group.
Transmission occurs through droplet infection
The highly contagious infectious disease is transmitted by droplet infection, which can occur through close contact with an infectious person, through large droplets within a distance of up to approx. 1 meter through coughing, sneezing or speaking, ”writes the RKI on its website.
"Adolescents and adults play an important role as carriers of infants," it continues.
To protect babies from infection, parents should ensure that it is only surrounded by vaccinated people. It takes a good year for the baby to be fully immunized.
Basic immunization for children
The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends starting the basic immunization against whooping cough, consisting of four vaccine doses, from the age of two months and completing it by the 14th month of life at the latest.
The four vaccinations are part of the six-fold vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and hepatitis.
The vaccination should be refreshed once at the age of five to six and from nine to 17 years.
Whooping cough does not cause symptoms immediately after infection. The time between infection and the onset of the first signs is about seven to 20 days.
Infection is not yet possible during this time, but only after the first symptoms appear. (ad)