Whooping cough is on the rise

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection and is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. The pertussis infection is usually spread by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Clermont County has cases of pertussis every year; however, there currently is an increase in pertussis cases in the county and throughout Ohio.

The Clermont County Health District is encouraging individuals to be up-to-date with their pertussis vaccinations. This is extremely important for individuals who will be in contact with unimmunized or under-immunized children or those who have a compromised immune system. Pertussis is most severe in babies who often catch the illness from a family member or other caregiver.

Pertussis symptoms can be different depending on age and vaccination history. Pertussis often begins with cold-like symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, low grade fever and a mild cough. Usually Pertussis is not suspected or diagnosed until persistent cough sets in after one to two weeks.

Some cases of pertussis in infants and children can cause severe and persistent coughing resulting in the traditional “whooping” sound. This extreme coughing can result in vomiting and exhaustion. Some cases may have a very mild cough and have the whooping sound. Coughing can last for 10 weeks or more.

There are pertussis vaccines available for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

The single most effective control measure is vaccination. Seeing a physician in a timely manner and treatment of ill individuals and their close contacts reduces the spread of pertussis. If you suspect you have pertussis stay away from others until you seek treatment.

Visit www.clermonthealthdistrict.org for more information.