Thursday, August 23, 2012
The Saline County Health Department is investigating a spike in the number of whooping cough cases.
Health officials said five cases have been confirmed since July 1.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease, and is spread from person to person through coughs & sneezes.
High rates of pertussis have been reported in several states, including Kansas.
Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age, who are too young to be fully vaccinated. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks.
After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound. Coughing may be severe enough to cause vomiting. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection usually last from 1-6 weeks, but can last 10 weeks or more. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 7–10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as 6 weeks.
The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. The Salina-Saline County Health Department strongly encourages residents to check the vaccination status of their children, themselves, and adult household members. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Adults (including women who may become pregnant, new parents, caregivers, and adults 65 and older) who expect to have close contact with a baby younger than 12 months of age should get a dose of Tdap to help protect the baby from pertussis.
The Salina-Saline County Health Department has a limited supply of free Tdap vaccine for new parents, grandparents, caregivers, and other adults who expect to have close contact with a baby younger than 12 months. Call 826-6602 to schedule an appointment for immunization. The health department clinic is currently located at 625 E. North Street in Salina.