Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whooping Cough

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Whooping Cough, also known as pertussis, is an infectious disease of the respiratory tract, caused by the bacillus Bordetella pertussis. The disease is characterized in its late stages by a deep cough ending in a high-pitched whooping sound. That is how it got its name. Whooping cough occurs worldwide, now and then in epidemics. Most cases occur in children under five years of age, and the disease is most serious in children less than one year old. In the United States about 7,800 cases occur each year. In this report I will tell you the characteristics and symptoms of the disease. Also the problem the scientist was trying to solve, how he or they solved it, their results, and the status of the disease today.

First are the symptoms. In the first two there is usually a sore throat with mild feeling of tiredness and being unwell and within or days turns into a dry cough. Fever is usually limited to the first week and is only mild. There may be a runny nose like a cold in the early stages. After two weeks there are attacks of a choking cough that lasts from 1 to minutes, often with vomiting, and feeling or looking like you are suffocating. Between these attacks of coughing the sufferer appears and usually feels perfectly well. These choking attacks of coughing happen as little as twice a day or as many as fifty. Only about 50% of whooping cough sufferers whoop. Whooping cough lasts at least weeks and can frequently go on for months or even longer. These are the symptoms but how do you get the disease?

Infection with pertussis usually occurs by breathing incoughed or sneezed particles into the air by an infected person. Once inside the respiratory tract, pertussis bacteria produce toxins that interfere with the respiratory tract’s ability to eliminate very small infections. Pertussis bacteria also produce chemicals that cause your throat to swell up or have a burning sensation.

Scientist and Physicians have known for decades that the pathogen destroys the ciliated cells in the epithelial lining of the respiratory tract. The hairlike cilia sweep away mucus, but when they die, coughing provides the only way to clear the airway. Microbiologist William Goldman and Tod Flak, Have worked on whooping cough and discovered many things. Using a tissue culture system in which the microbe causes the same type of damage as in humans, the researchers found that two toxic substances produced by B. pertussis work together to kill the ciliated cells. It is usually known for causing widespread immune system stimulation, which can lead to shock. They found out that the two toxins do not launch a direct attack on the ciliated cells. Instead, they work together to urge on neighboring cells to produce a noxious molecule, nitric oxide (NO), which kills the ciliated cells by a yet unknown mechanism.

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In developed countries, vaccination largely holds whooping cough in check, but the spread of the disease in adults appears to be increasing; in nondeveloped countries, B. pertussis still kills from 00,000 to 500,000 people every year. The problem is that even though antibiotics get rid of the bacteria, by the time the characteristic cough develops, the microbes are often already gone, which has started a pattern of destructive events. Drugs that inhibit NO production might allow the tracheal epithelium to recover more quickly.

Because not all the cells in the tracheal epithelium are ciliated, the team wondered whether the ciliated cells themselves or their neighbors produce the NO. Further studies provided an answer TCT and endotoxin induce the nonciliated, mucus-secreting cells to produce the toxic gas. Even though the researchers do not yet understand how NO kills the ciliated cells without harming the secretory cells that produce it, they still discovered many things and are still working on it.

Without the knowledge we had gained from the research of Goldman and Tod Flak we would not have the knowledge we have today. We still have more to discover and better cures. Someday in the future I hope that scientist find a that cure. Goldman and Tod Flak are still working on it so in the future they may do that.

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