Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, starts like an ordinary cold. But after a week or two, it doesn't get better — it gets worse. Sufferers cough for so hard and so long they gasp for air, turn blue in the face, and often vomit. The coughing fits are so intense, they leave people exhausted, their bodies rattled. When babies get whooping cough, they have trouble breathing and sometimes temporarily stop breathing all together. These symptoms can last for more than two months. Rebecca Harreman's son developed pertussis as an infant, and she decided to show the world exactly what that looks like. She added a powerful message: "For those of you sitting on the fence on whether to vaccinate yourself and your kids or not," she wrote, "maybe this video will convince you." Here's her Facebook Video (also below) of her son, which has now been viewed more than 1.8 million times. The full text of her Facebook post, which has been shared more than 37,000 times at publish time, is below.
In the early 1940s, before the pertussis vaccine became widely available, there were about 175,000 cases of whooping cough in the US every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 9,000 of those cases were fatal.
After the vaccine was introduced, the disease gradually became less and less common; in the 1980s, there were an average of 2,900 cases each year.
But that was as close to eliminating it as we've gotten — it's been on the rise ever since. In 2013, there were 28,639 cases in the US; in 2014, there were 32,971.
Infants — who are at the greatest risk of serious complications from pertussis (including, very rarely, death) — have been the hardest hit.
The rise of whooping cough since the 1980s is not entirely understood. Increased awareness and more accurate diagnosis may be part of it.
The US also started using a different pertussis vaccine in the 1990s, in response to some concerns people had about potential side effects of the old one. The protection offered by that new vaccine seems to wear off more quickly though — one reason booster shots are important, especially for people who will be around unvaccinated infants.
Lastly, scientists are investigating whether the bacteria that cause the disease might be evolving.
While the CDC says that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children aren't what's driving the large whooping cough outbreaks we've seen, they certainly help the bacteria spread — and put their children at risk for serious complications.
Children without vaccinations are eight times more likely to get whooping cough than vaccinated kids, and while people who are vaccinated can develop the disease, it tends to be a much milder version.
Unfortunately, whooping cough is one of the most contagious serious diseases we know. One infected person can spread it to up to 15 others — often before it's serious enough for them to realize it's not just a cold.
So as Rebecca Harreman urges people in her post: Get your vaccines, certainly.
But also: If you have to go out in public when you're coughing, cover your mouth.
Here's the full text of Harreman's Facebook post: Okay so I know I said I'd let the hate go. But I'm tired. Damn tired. I've been on duty for over 3 weeks having to wake every single time my baby boy coughs for fear he will stop breathing. Every. Single. Time. I cannot and will not pass that duty to anyone else, because I just can't sleep. So for those of you sitting on the fence on whether to vaccinate yourself and your kids or not... maybe this video will convince you. This is a GOOD coughing fit in a 4 month old with Pertussis, or Whooping Cough - 23 days after his cough started which is when it's supposed to be getting past the bad stage. It lasts for up to 100 days, but a simple cold I passed onto him that I caught from being with him in hospital is making him relapse again. Now when I say this is good... I mean that's absolutely nothing. Not even long enough to be called a coughing fit. Nothing compared to watching him turn blue from coughing for so long and so much he can't take a single breath... Imagine that in a tiny newborn baby. Can you imagine?! The doctors said he has his age and size and his first vaccination on his side to be able to fight this because there is no real way to treat it - you can only try and get some oxygen in them - that is if they breathe it in... and they have to do that all on their own. I don't care whether you want to try and prove to me that vaccinations and herd immunities don't work. I don't care that vaccinations have side effects, because every person in this world reacts differently to all types of food, products and medicines. I could not care less, even if it is ever proven one day that they don't work. You know why? Because at least at the end of the day I tried to do something to prevent this and not sit there and say "oh well, vaccinations don't work so I'll just sit here and do nothing"... because doing nothing goes against every cell in my body as a mother. Doing nothing is just wrong. So please share this and spread some awareness... not nonsense. This is getting worse because people are not vaccinating! Oh, and no matter what you believe - if you have a cough while out in public - cover your damn effing mouth!!! ~End Rant~ Source: A mom made a powerful pro-vaccine plea with this video of her baby struggling to breathe
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