Linn County Public Health has seen a significant increase in reported cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. More than 50 new cases have been reported since May 1, 2012. The majority of the reported cases are middle school aged children.
Whooping cough starts with symptoms similar to a common cold. Individuals of all ages can be affected. The disease is very contagious and can easily be spread through the air from a sick person during talking, sneezing or coughing. Children suffering from whooping cough often develop coughing fits, especially at night, giving a high-pitched “whoop” sound, a sign that they are struggling to breathe between coughs.
“We are asking Linn County residents to double-check with their health care provider to ensure that they are up-to-date on vaccinations,” said Pramod Dwivedi, Linn County Public Health Director. “It is vital that teens and adults get the Tdap booster. The increase in adult vaccination is critical because it protects our babies since they are too young to be fully vaccinated.”
Whooping cough is a preventable infection through vaccination. Children should have received the basic Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) immunization series (4 doses) through their family medical provider by 15 months of age. They also receive an additional dose of Tdap before they start school.
For adults and children over 11 years of age, a pertussis booster is recommended. The booster can be received at a medical provider’s office and is combined with the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccinations (Tdap). Linn County Public Health urges parents to check their children’s vaccine records to be sure they are fully immunized.
Young children and pregnant women are particularly at risk of developing complications and requiring hospitalization as a result of whooping cough. Although deaths are rare, they do occur, especially in infants less than one year of age. The disease is typically much milder in adults and children 7 years and older.
Anyone suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease should call their health care provider. Individuals who are prescribed antibiotics and have symptoms of whooping cough should not return to school, work or daycare for five days. Rest and plenty of fluids will assist the body in recovering from the illness.