Health Dept. Urges Vaccination After Increasing Numbers of Pertussis Cases
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The State Health Department says so far this year, there have been 970 reported cases of pertussis. There were 931 in all of 2011. Compare that to a mere 265 in 2009.
In Monroe County the numbers are following the state trend. There have been 50 reported cases so far; there were about 50 in all of 2011. In Livingston County, the numbers are twice as high, with 112 reported cases cases so far in 2011.
Three infants in New York State died from whooping cough last year.
Pertussis is highly contagious and children are not fully immunized until they're five, so experts recommend immunizing others around them. Even those of us who were vaccinated as children, need to get a booster of the vaccine that wanes over time.
"The illness in kids, it's frustrating and it's prolonged, but it's deadly in babies," said pediatrician Dr. Molly Hughes. "Babies don't go through the cold symptoms necessarily. They don't have the characteristic 'whoop'. They have that cough and then they stop breathing."
Symptoms for pertussis include cough, sneezing, runny nose or even a low-grade fever.
Doctors say if the cough continues for two weeks, it's time to make an appointment.
The treatment is a round of antibiotics.
"Adults of all ages are now recommended to get a booster shot of pertussis. That's usually included in a vaccine called Tdap," said John Ricci with the Monroe County Health Dept.
"Instead of getting your tetanus shot every ten years, discuss with your doctor actually
replacing that with Tdap so you're not only protected from tetanus, but you'd be protected from pertussis as well."
Ricci recommends talking to your doctor about getting the vaccine, or contacting the health department where you can also get a dose.