|Whooping Cough cases confirmed in Montgomery County
Montgomery County has had two confirmed cases of Pertussis reported in the last several days. Commonly referred to as Whooping Cough, Pertussis is caused by bacteria that attack the upper airways of the lungs causing swelling.
Kentucky has already been categorized as being in a Pertussis outbreak for several years due to ongoing cases being reported throughout the state. Until this week, Montgomery County had not had a case in a few years.
Please take the time to read the following information regarding Pertussis prevention and information to protect you and your family.
Early symptoms of Whooping Cough include a runny nose, mild cough, low grade fever, and apnea (or a pause in breathing). Apnea is a symptom seen in babies.
These early symptoms can last for one-two weeks. Later symptoms include paroxysms, which are coughing fits followed with a high-pitched “whoop.” Later symptoms also include vomiting and extreme tiredness after coughing fits. These coughing fits can last for up to 10 weeks.
Teens and adults may not develop severe illness, especially if they are up to date on their vaccines, and not have the “whoop.” However, anyone can develop severe symptoms and complications, especially if they are in the following categories:
• Are pregnant
• Under the age of 1 or newborn
• Are immunocompromised
• Have a pre-existing health condition (for example: asthma, cystic fibrosis, heart disease and COPD).
Because the early symptoms of Pertussis are similar to those of a cold, many times it is not diagnosed until later symptoms develop.
Whooping Cough is especially dangerous in young children, with higher rates of complications in those who have not been vaccinated. Babies from 0-2 months can get Pertussis easily if they have been exposed because they have not had any vaccinations.
Half of babies with Pertussis will be hospitalized as it can cause pneumonia, convulsions, apnea and even death. Even though teens and adults may have less severe symptoms, pertussis can cause rib fractures, loss of bladder control and passing out from coughing fits.
Pertussis is very contagious and spread person-to-person through the air by coughing, sneezing or spending a lot of time with someone who has Pertussis. Many times babies are infected by adults and older brothers and sisters who don’t even know they are sick because their symptoms are mild.
People who are infected can spread Pertussis to others from the week before they start coughing to two weeks after coughing starts (21 days total).
The best way to prevent Pertussis is to get vaccinated. All children are vaccinated against Pertussis beginning at 2 months old with their last vaccination at 4 using the DTaP vaccine. Pertussis vaccination fades over time. Therefore, it is now required that all children get a booster, called a TdaP, at age 11.
For adults who were not vaccinated at age 11, it is recommended that you get one TdaP vaccination. This vaccination protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. At this time, the CDC only recommends a one-time TdaP vaccination in adulthood unless you are pregnant. If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you get a TdaP with each pregnancy in your third trimester. This is to prevent you from spreading Pertussis to your newborn baby.
It is important that anyone who will be caring for a baby get the TdaP vaccine if you have not previously had one in adulthood.
The Montgomery County Health Dept. offers the DTaP vaccine for children and the TdaP vaccine for teens and adults as well as many doctors’ offices. The health dept. accepts most insurance and has vaccines available at reduced cost for uninsured and underinsured children and adults.
If you develop symptoms of Whooping Cough, stay away from others, and contact your health care provider right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of Pertussis can shorten the length of illness and decrease complications. Early treatment also keeps you from passing this serious illness to others and decreases the amount of time you have to be off of work or out of school.
If you are told by your medical provider that you have Pertussis, it is important that you do not return to work or school until you have been released by your medical provider. You can also protect others by:
• Coughing or sneezing into a tissue
• Discarding the tissue into the trash
• Coughing into your sleeve or elbow if you do not have a tissue
• Washing your hands after coughing or sneezing
• Using hand sanitizer after coughing or sneezing if you cannot wash your hands.
Information in this article and more in-depth Pertussis information can be found online at www.cdc.gov/pertussis.
—Info. submitted by health dept.