Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2013

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education classroom to client | Pathology perspectives | body awareness | functional anatomy | somatic research What's the Big Whoop? Childhood Infections in Adults By Ruth Werner Getting sick and then getting better, over and over again, is a ritual every human goes through. One of a child's most important jobs is to collect a wide variety of cooties so he can create immune-system responses that keep him safe for the rest of his life. Many of the common childhood infections mentioned here are inconvenient but not terribly serious to young people, but they can be major problems for adults (and devastating to infants). For a variety of reasons, you may encounter adult clients who have contracted an illness that is traditionally considered a childhood disease. These illnesses can have an impact on massage therapists—both on your own health and that of your other clients—so this edition of Pathology Perspectives will examine some of them. Whooping Cough Whooping cough, also called pertussis (the pathogen is called Bordetella pertussis), is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract. Dogs also experience a form of this disease called kennel cough. The pathogens—both viral and bacterial— that cause kennel cough in dogs can cause a respiratory infection in humans, although it doesn't seem to be a common occurrence in people who are healthy. 42 massage & bodywork september/october 2013 Whooping cough got its name from the cough it produces. It is so severe and so deep that children must inhale with a deep "whoop" sound to replace all the air they expelled from their lungs while coughing. The bacteria are spread through respiratory secretions, and violent coughing that spews mucus and saliva throughout the environment is an extremely efficient way for this pathogen to find new hosts. Most people are vaccinated against pertussis in early childhood. The "P" in the DTaP vaccine stands for pertussis. (The "DTa" stands for "diphtheria, tetanus, and.") Unfortunately, the vaccine does not provide lifelong immunity. Somewhere between five and 10 years after the final dose, the pertussis-fighting antibodies triggered by the vaccine diminish and eventually disappear. This accounts for a spike in diagnoses among children who are between their booster schedules1 and among adults. When adults with no protection come in contact with unvaccinated infants or children, the results can be inconvenient at best, life-threatening at worst. One of the tricky things about pertussis is that the characteristic "whoop" sound is typical only when it occurs in toddlers and young children. When it occurs in newborn infants or in adults, it creates breathing

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