Medical experts and government agencies have stressed for years the importance of vaccines (#vaccine) to eliminate diseases that were responsible for infant or childhood deaths. Vaccine adoption in countries that have great vaccination programs like the US, Finland and Sweden have almost eradicated measles, small pox and other childhood diseases. These vaccination programs are not without its share of controversies and skeptics.
Lets begin with the understanding of what a vaccination program entails. For our purposes we are going to focus on the main medical organizations. There are a lot of other health agencies involved but we are going to focus on the two biggest ones: the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). WHO as the name implied is all over the world and the first line of defense for outbreaks and epidemics. Their goal is simply to provide standard health care to all citizens in which their respective countries have adopted their constitution. They are our first responders for vaccines and getting information about potential dangers in human health. The CDC is America’s main defense for protecting US citizens from disease outbreaks. They work hand in hand with the WHO to help detect and treat outbreaks.
We no longer live in an isolated geographic bubble but have integrated ourselves into the global world. Any airplane from any part of the world can bring with it a potential disease outbreak. By partnering with the WHO, detection of these potential dangers are performed quickly before they become a serious threat to public health. As an example, when the Ebola outbreak occurred in Africa, the WHO, CDC and medical researchers across the globe worked together to combat the infections.
Now that you understand the main players, let’s get a better understanding of the vaccination programs. First and foremost, most vaccination programs are not the same. A vaccination program in North America will be different from a vaccination program in Africa. Each continent has different diseases affecting their respective population. The second factor is financial cost. Just because the latest and greatest vaccine has been developed doesn’t mean that it will be used in low income nations. Most national health care systems will try and maximize its program based on cost since you need multiple vaccinations for the program to become effective. Keep in mind that not all nations have insurance programs to help maintain health programs. Some nations require financial assistance to protect its populace and it is in the best interest of all nations to assist.
In my house, I have ants and have the property treated accordingly by a pest company to keep them away. Every now and again, I am reminded why I should not cancel the pest service. You see, once I cancel the pest service, the ants return with a vengeance and overrun my kitchen. Vaccination programs are the same way. Just because you think the disease has been vaccinated out of existence, then that program is no longer needed. The population begins to avoid those vaccination programs under a false pretense. Before you know it, the disease being treated returns and has a stronger resistance than before. One such case involves pertussis or whopping cough.
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory disease caused by the bacteria bordetella pertussis. Bordetella pertussis is a gram negative bacteria which means that when researchers try to stain the bacteria (Gram method) with a crystal violet color, it won’t hold the color. The color usually adheres to the wall of the bacteria which helps with its identification. Pertussis bacteria begins its infection by direct contact such as coughing, sneezing or breathing in the same area for an extended period of time. Once you are infected, the bacteria begins to grow in your nasopharynx. Upon establishing themselves, they begin to move down your pharynx and eventually into your respiratory tract. Once in your respiratory tract, the bacteria will create toxins, causing an infection and causing your airways to swell which makes breathing dificult.
The whooping cough is very contagious for up to 2 weeks. The whooping cough symptoms will almost seem like the common cold at first but once you begin with an uncontrollable violent cough and have difficulty breathing, you will realize the difference. After many cough fits, a person infected with whooping cough will have to take deep breaths which results in a whooping sound. Everyone must of heard of the saying, “coughing up a lung”.
The most important thing for whooping cough treatment is early detection if you have been infected with whopping cough since antibiotics can help treat it quickly and reduce the rate of infection. Once it reaches three weeks of infection, antibiotics are unlikely to help because the bacteria are gone from your body but symptoms might still exist. In adults, the whooping cough is not lethal and additional symptoms can be seen such as vomiting and exhaustion. In babies or small children it can be lethal since one of the effects of having whooping cough is apnea which is a pause in breathing
Now you may be thinking that giving cough medicine might help. Believe it or not, it might actually make things worse. For children, there are several things you can do to prevent infection it is important to get the pertussis vaccine to try and prevent the spread of it. If you have a baby under 6 months old, keep them away from anyone who has not been vaccinated. The vaccine program does not have children full immunized from whooping cough until after 6 months. If your child has become infected, wash your hands regularly to avoid re-infection, use a cool-mist vaporizer to help with breathing, drink plenty of fluids including fruits and fruit juices and encourage kids to eat small frequent meals to try and prevent vomiting. Together we can all help prevent the spread of whooping cough.
Is your child immunized?