Risk of Pertussis
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease marked by severe coughing. Its common name, whooping cough, comes from the "whoop" sound patients make when they try to inhale during or after a severe coughing spell.
There are both severe and milder forms of pertussis. Although pertussis can occur at any age, severe pertussis disease usually occurs in infants and young children who have not been fully vaccinated and who are at higher risk for serious complications - such as pneumonia and seizures - and death. the pertussis immunity induced by early childhood vaccinations or by natural disease wears off, leaving adolescents and adults once again susceptible to pertussis. While they may not always experience the debilitating effects of the disease that infants do, infected adolescents and adults often have prolonged illness and can easily transmit the illness to unimmunized and partially immnized infants and young children. Additionally, adults older than 55 years of age may be at considerable risk for certain complications assocated with pertussis.
Mild pertussis disease is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are not distinctive; usually a prolonged cough is present, but without the "whoop." Although infants and young children may experience mild pertussis disease, it is more often associated with adolescents and adults.
"While adolescent and adult patients may be spared the debilitating effects of pertussis, the fact that their disease is often not readily diagnosed means that they may unwittingly spread it to others," said Dr. Johnson.
About tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
Tetanus is a severe, frequently fatal disease caused by an exotoxin produced by bacteria (Clostridium tetani). The disease, characterized by generalized rigidity and convulsive spasms of skeltal muscles, causes paralysis, and usually starts at the top of the body and works its way down, "Lockjaw," as the disease is sometimes called, is often the first symptom, followed by stiffness in the neck and difficulty swallowing. Muscle spasms may occur frequently, lasting for several minutes and persisting for up to a month.
Symptoms of tetanus can appear anywhere from three days to three weeks after exposure to the bacteria and may be accompanied by fever, sweating, elevated blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. The bacteria that cause tetanus are widespread and are found in soil and in the intestinal tracts of animals and humans. It usually enters the body through a wound or opening in the skin. Virtually all of the cases of tetanus disease occurring in the U.S. are in adults not up-to-date with booster vaccinations.
Diphtheria is caused by exposure to bacteria (Corynebacterium diphtheriae) from an infected person and usually affects the tonsils, throat, nose and/or skin. It is passed from person to person by droplet transmission, usually by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has coughed, sneezed, or even laughed. It can also be spread by handling used tissues or by drinking from a glass used by an infected person.
Symptoms usually appear two to five days after infection and begin very much like a common cold. However, symptoms can progress as a membrane grows and covers anywhere from a small patch to most of the throat, potentially blocking the airway.
The infection releases a toxin that can lead to heart failure and paralysis. If enough toxin is absorbed into the bloodstream, coma or even death can occur in as little as, a week. Diphtheria occurs rarely in this country, but is occasionally imported from countries where it is endemic. Ongoing vaccination to protect against diphtheria continues to be recommended.
Pertussis a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, is caused by bacteria (Bordetella pertussis) found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Pertussia is primarily spread when someone with the disease coughs in close proximity to a person who is susceptible. Classic, or severe, pertussis, as defined by the world Health Organization, consists of at least 21 days of cough illness (with the cough coming in spasms or paroxysms), associated whoops or post-cough vomiting, and laboratory confirmation. Mild pertusis is any laboratory- confirmed pertussis disease that is less than clasic disease.
Pertussis can occur at any age. Approximately two thirds of the cases reported in the US occur in adolescents and adults, while the majority of the remaining reported cases affect children under 6 months of age. Pertussis is less common among children aged 6 months through 10 years, who are protected by existing vaccination programmes.
For young children, pertussis disease can result in significant morbidity, hospitalization, serious long-term complications, and death. Pertussis immunity, whether from childhood vaccination or natural disease, is not lifelong immunity; it must be boosted for adolescents and adults to be protected.
The sanofi-aventis group is the world's third-largest pharmaceutical company, ranking number one in Europe. Backed by a world-class R&D orgaization, sanofi-aventis is developing leading positions in seven major therapeutic areas : cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, oncology, metabolic diseases, central nervous system, internal medicine, and vaccines. The sanofi-aventis Group is listed in Paris (EURONEXT : SAN) and in New York (NYSE : SNY).
Sanofi pasteur, the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis group, sold 950 million doses of vaccine in 2004, making it possible to protect more than 500 million people across the globe, which is about 1.4 million per day. The company offers the broadest range of vaccines, providing protection against 20 bacterial and viral diseases.
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New Centre for Kids With Facial Defects
One-stop centre at KKH will cater solely to these patients
AS OTHER new mothers rest at home, Madam Y.L. Poh, 40, has been shuttling between five doctors and therapists - in Pasir Ris, Tanglin and the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) - to arrange treatment for her son, Luke, born on October 17, with a cleft lip and palate.
At every clinic she went to, she faced curious stares and, occasionally, rude questions on why little Luke was 'deformed'.
'It was physically tiring no doubt, but the emotional stress from such reactions was tougher to deal with,' said Madam Poh. By this time next year, parents of the 150 or so children born every year with head and face abnormalities - such as a cleft lip or palate - will not have to go through the same ordeal.
A Cleft and Cranio-Facial Centre, exclusively for children with such disabilities, will be set up at the KKH, the hospital and representatives from the National Kidney Foundation's Children's Medical Fund said.
The fund will pay S2.5 million over the next five years to help set up the centre, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, chairman of the fund's board, Dr Gerard Chuah, told reporters shortly after inking the deal with KKH's chief executive, Dr Ivy Ng. The centre hopes to attract patients from overseas as well. Children born with head and facial abnormalities require intensive treatment, involving plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, dental surgeons and eye specialists, among others. They also require help from speech therapists, psychologists and counsellors. For the first time, the centre will bring under one roof services involving all these disciplines.
Treatment usually lasts from birth till about 18, during which a child will have to go through multiple surgical procedures and about 1,000 visits to doctors and therapists, said Dr Vincent Yeow of KKH who will head the centre. The total treatment now - including surgery and stays at B2 wards - costs about $21,000, said Dr Yeow, adding that costs were likely to remain the same at the new centre as well. The plastic surgeon added that the new centre was likely to reduce trips to doctors by about 30 per cent, by scheduling trips to various specialists at one go.
That's something financial adviser Tracy Tey, mother of 15-month-old Jay, is looking forward to. The 32-year-old has had to be absent from work at least once every week over the past year to run the gauntlet of the various specialists' clinics.
'My company is quite understanding, but I know others with children like Jay who find it really difficult to get leave,' she said.
But convenience is not the only benefit. Dr Ng pointed out, the new centre would be the first'patient-centric' facility for such children. 'Now, parents try to fit into schedules of doctors who treat many other kinds of patients as well,' said Dr Ng. At the new centre, doctors will work around the patient's schedule - and all patients will be seeking treatment for similar problems.
That's something Madam Poh finds most comforting. 'All other patients visiting the new centre will be like Luke,' she said, 'so he will not be gawked at.'
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