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The Return of Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

By Katherine West, BSN, MSEd, CIC, Infection Control ConsultantPertussis, also known as whooping cough, is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis and is considered a highly communicable disease. Pertussis is known for its uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to take in a breath.   Pertussis is an endemic (normally occurring) disease in the United States, with periodic epidemics (increase in cases) about every three to five years. In 2009, nearly 17,000 cases of pertussis were reported—and many more cases go unreported. The primary goal of pertussis outbreak control efforts is to decrease morbidity (cases of disease) and mortality (deat...

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