My son just tested positive for Pertussis (Whooping Cough). It's a nasty bug that used to kill 10,000 or so people a year. Now it kills less than 100.
But it's super-contagious, and all the more so because your child won't necessarily start barking like a seal when they get it.
H. had a mild cold 3 weeks ago. Then he developed a persistent, mild cough that mostly bugged him in the morning.
After 9 days I took him to the doctor, in part because I knew one of his schoolmates had Whooping Cough, too.
The doctor said he probably didn't have it, but did a test anyway. Two days later, we got the results.
Here's what I should have done as soon as I got suspicious. You should, too:
- Taken him to be tested the moment he got a cold. I didn't know that Pertussis can manifest as a mild cold, and waited for the persistent cough before I acted.
- Quarantined him until after we got his test results. It was Christmas Eve, so we went ahead and had a party, etc.. We warned our friends but let them come over, anyway, since the doctor didn't think he had it. Doh. Now they're all on antibiotics, too.
- Put a vaporizer in his room. It relieves some of the symptoms, even with a super-mild cough.
- Made him drink lots of water. Same reason as above. Getting a 7-year-old to drink water is hard, but after only one day of getting him to do it, he's clearly feeling better.
The most important thing is to follow your instincts. When I learned his classmate was sick, and H. caught a cold, I was worried. I didn't want to over-dose him on antibiotics, though, and I'm usually the nervous one, so I waited for a week or so.
H. will be totally OK - he's already stir-crazy from being stuck in the house - but because he exposed so many other people, they're all stuck taking antibiotics, too. That's not healthy. Learn from my mistakes, folks.