What is a DTP vaccine?

DTP is a vaccine that is being administered to provide immunity against three different bacterial diseases namely, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertusis. Lets look into all these three different diseases

Diphtheria 

It is a bacterial disease that affects the nose and throat. The mucous membranes are affected and it could cause difficulty breathing. Hang on, this is not a disease that simply affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. If Diphtheria is left untreated then it can cause severe damage to the kidneys, nervous system and even the heart. It can even be fatal in some cases.

Mode of transmission

It spreads via person to person contact or even via the objects that are used by an infected person. This can be even the surface that an infected person comes in contact with. It could also be any thing ranging from cups to table surfaces that the infected person might have used.

Symptoms of Diphtheria

The toxins released by the bacteria cause a thick greyish coating to form in the nose, tongue, throat or even the airways that makes breathing difficult.

Other symptoms include

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Runny nose

Treatment of Diphtheria

Treatment for Diphtheria involves antibiotics and isolation as it is highly contagious. After the course of antibiotics, blood tests are done to check for traces of bacteria still present. If bacteria are still present, then the antibiotics are continued for some more days as directed by the physician.

Tetanus 

Ever heard of lockjaw? That is another fancy word for the spasmic condition that is caused by the bacteria that causes tetanus. Tetanus affects the nervous system and causes muscles to tighten.  It is also called lockjaw because the infection causes muscle contractions in the jaw and neck that cause it to be painfully locked. Tetanus is preventable with vaccinations. However, Tetanus booster shots need to be administered once in every 10 years to ensure continued immunity. Tetanus is not contagious from person to person like Diphtheria.

How can you contract Tetanus?

You can contract Tetanus in any of the following ways:

  • Injuries
  • Burns
  • Sores or infections that are stubborn to heal
  • Animal bites
  • Dental procedure
  • Puncture wounds from piercings
  • Tattoo wounds
  • Contamination with dirt, fecal matter or saliva
  • Surgical wounds
  • Ulcers of the feet
  • Insect bite stings
  • Tetanus infection is common in hot and humid climates
  • Umbilical stump infection in infants

Symptoms of Tetanus

  • Fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Stiffness of the jaw and neck muscles
  • Stiffness of the abdominal muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful body spasms
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure

 

Treatment of Tetanus

  • If there is an infected wound. It must be cleaned thoroughly.
  • If a tetanus infection is suspected, the doctor might prescribe Antitoxins and/or Antibiotics.
  • Sedatives are also given to control the painful muscles spasm, as these spasms are triggered by common things like light or sound.

Pertussis or Whooping Cough

It is a highly contagious bacterial disease. Violent and strenuous coughing is the primary symptom of Pertussis. Vaccination is the best way to be protected against Pertussis.

Modes of transmission of Whooping cough

Coughing or sneezing droplets can transmit the bacteria causing Pertussis. Vaccination can reduce the severity of the disease even if you contract the disease after proper vaccination.

Symptoms of Pertussis

  • Cold like symptoms
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing and runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing bout that can cause vomiting

Treatment of Pertussis

Since Pertussis is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed to help fight the infection. The dosage and duration will be decided by the doctor based on the severity, age and health of the patient.

Vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis

It is usually given as a conjugate vaccine. DTap, DTP, DTwP, DTaP and Tdap are the different vaccines available.

The schedule of the vaccination may change as per the type of the vaccination. The DTaP vaccine is given as a series of five shots at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 to 18 months
  • 4 to 6 years

Adolescents must get a dose of Tdap, at around the ages of 11 and 12. A Td booster is also recommended every 10 years thereafter. 

If you have travel plans, do your research to find out if tetanus is common in the country you are planning to visit. If it is endemic, then make sure you get vaccinated before you leave if you havent had a tetanus vaccination in the last 10 years.

Vaccination research findings

  • Research suggests that in developing countries where tetanus is widespread, vaccination during pregnancy can protect women, fetuses and even newborn children against infectious diseases. This can save the lives of many children from sepsis and even death.

 

  • An innovative research by the Duke Cancer institute revealed that a Tetanus shot can improves a patient's response to treatment for brain tumor. This has dramatically increased a patient's survival rate.

 

  • A new research conducted on the effect of Tdap vaccine when given to a pregnant woman revealed that vaccinating the pregnant mother reduced the risk of the infant contracting pertussis by about 91 percent during the first two months of life. This is a very crucial period as the infants are not vaccinated against Diphtheria Tetanus or Pertussis in the first two months of their life. After this period, continuity in immunity can be ensured with the help of routine timely childhood vaccinations.