Whooping it up is not a good idea
Gwyneth Paltrow spread her cough around the globe in "Contagion," but that fictional pandemic can't compare with the real whooping cough epidemic that's spreading across North America. In the first half of this year, there were more than 18,000 reported cases -- and we're heading for the most since 1959 (40,000), when the vaccine was introduced.
Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is a bacterial infection that starts with cold-like symptoms, but after a week or two triggers coughing fits (whoops) that leave a person breathless. Infected infants, who account for half of the deaths from the disease, may cough slightly or not at all.
Why is whooping cough making a comeback? First, the newer formulation of the vaccine (since about 1996) seems to wear off sooner than the previous one, making people vulnerable. And most teens and adults don't get boosters; so they can get and spread the disease. Also, infants start the five-part vaccination at 2 months and are not immunized until they get the third shot. So they can catch it from siblings, parents and caretakers who might not even know they have it.
To help stop this epidemic:
Have all infants fully vaccinated with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis).
Get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster. It's for kids 11-12 years old; everyone who has contact with pregnant women or infants; women of childbearing age, before, during or immediately after pregnancy; and everyone 64 or older who has not had a booster within the past 10 years.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.