The Communicable Disease: Pertussis
Pertussis is a highly infectious disease. It is also known as whooping cough. For more than a decade, pertussis has become a significant public health problem. CDC reports that since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the United States (2011a). Worldwide, there are 30-50 million cases of pertussis and about 300,000 deaths per year (CDC, 2011a). Public Health Nurses play an important role in limiting the transmission during outbreaks by educating and ensuring appropriate treatments to the communities.
Epidemiologic Triad Model
Agent. The main biological pathogen that causes the Pertussis is Bordetella Pertussis. The agent is an aerobic gram-negative bacterium. Bordetella Pertussis attaches to and damages ciliated respiratory epithelium (Guinto-Ocampo, McNeil & Aronoff, 2010). The mechanism prevents cilia from capturing debris and interferes with the respiratory tract from clearing secretions. In addition to the adherence, Bordetella Pertussis releases toxin to stimulate the production of thick mucus which can obstruct the airway. Consequently, the body responds by coughing in order to clear the airway which releases the microorganism into the air.
Host. Bordetella Pertussis affects only humans. No animal or insect source or vector is known to exist (CDC, 2011a). The mode of transmission is the respiratory route. The bacteria live in mouth, nose, and throat. An infected person spreads the disease to another person via airborne droplets of respiratory secretions. “Pertussis is especially contagious during the first week of illness but is easily transmitted during the period starting 7 days following exposure and for up to 3 weeks after the onset of spasmodic coughing” (Dworkin, 2005). All ages can be affected by the disease with infants and young children being the most prevalent group. Despite vaccination, the incidence of pertussis in children younger than one has increased to more than one half of all childhood pertussis case due the undeveloped immunity (Gregory, 2006). Pertussis can be fatal in infants. Infants younger than six months with pertussis are more likely to develop complications, and to require hospitalization (Guinto-Ocampo et al., 2010).
Environment. Bordetella Pertussis requires a warm and moist environment to grow. The organism is very susceptible to environmental changes and cannot survive outside the respiratory tract. Pertussis lacks a seasonal pattern but most cases occur most during summer and fall (Dominguez, 2005). Since pertussis spreads by droplet transmission, institutional settings such as daycare facilities, schools and hospitals are common areas of outbreaks. Pertussis occurs worldwide regardless of countries with high vaccination coverage (Crowcroft & Pebody, 2006). However, the death rate of pertussis is highest in countries where vaccination coverage is low, which is primarily in the developing...