Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department sees resurgence in whooping cough cases

Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States.

Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the United States.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department urges residents to take precautions against pertussis, also called whooping cough, as it has seen a resurgence of activity especially in the Baldwin City area.

The health department reported 23 cases of pertussis in October, and it is investigating additional cases. So far this year, there have been 84 cases compared to 17 cases in 2011. The department has responded by providing treatment and prevention recommendations to the ill, their possible contacts and area physicians. It has been working closely with local school districts, Kansas University and Baker University.

Statewide, there have been 588 pertussis cases so far this year, compared to 52 in 2011.

Pertussis is a contagious, respiratory disease caused by bacteria. It is spread by coughing or sneezing in close contact with others.

The symptoms of pertussis begin much like a common cold:

• Runny nose or congestion

• Sneezing

• Occasionally a mild cough or fever

• Infants and children with the disease may cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they’re forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound.

In rare cases (one out of 200), pertussis can cause death, especially in children age 1 or younger.

To stop the spread of pertussis, the health department recommends:

• Contacting your physician by phone if you have any symptoms.

• Be sure to take all medication if recommended and isolate yourself.

• Stay home when you are ill.

• Cover your cough.

• Be sure that you and your children are up to date on immunizations for pertussis vaccine (Dtap or Tdap).

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department offers pertussis vaccines through its walk-in clinic, 200 Maine. Some adults may be eligible to receive the pertussis vaccine at a reduced rate if they meet certain income guidelines. For clinic hours, visit the health department’s website at www.ldchealth.org/contact.

If you have any questions, please contact your physician or the health department at (785) 843-0721 and ask for a communicable disease nurse.

Tagged: Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, whooping cough, pertussis

Comments

KU_cynic 1 year, 11 months ago

I understand that the vaccination -- typically required among children attending school -- is not 100% effective. That said, I wonder what percentage of the reported cases -- especially among children -- are among the un-vaccinated.

I suspect -- although I do not have sufficient facts -- that many of these cases are among people who have not been vaccinated.

If this suspicion has merit, it would illustrate the social costs of allowing parents to claim exemptions from vaccination requirements.

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Ryan Neuhofel 1 year, 11 months ago

This is a complex issue to study for sure. There are many potential biases that may account for the recent "epidemics".

Re: vaccinated vs. non. The majority (80%) of pertussis infections have indeed occurred in vaccinated people. But, this is not "proof" that the vaccine is entirely ineffective as many anti-vaccine folks will claim. With 90-95% of the population vaccinated, it only stands to reason that the absolute number of infections will be higher in this population (even with their reduced risk). In fact, the rate (incidence) of infection is higher in unvaccinated populations.

However, there are legitimate concerns about the effectiveness (namely longevity) of the "new" acellular pertussis vaccine. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1209051

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CHKNLTL 1 year, 11 months ago

Most people don't realize the elderly ( over age 60) are just as highly contagious as young children and often they don't feel really sick so they don't stay home. I work in food service and I can't tell you how many customers with a cough are meeting their friends and the first thing they tell them is that they feel sick!!!! EVERYONE who feels sick should not be going out all over town, especially with a cough and runny nose carrying their dirty tissues all over. Additionally, ANY adult who has not been vaccinated for pertussis in the last ten years can catch it and feel like they have a mild cold. This includes those who have had it before, you can still catch it again, since it is not a virus, you don't have immunity forever. So let's stop the constant blaming the unvaccinated kids crap. Kansas requires children to receive all their shots to enter school, so i would be surprised if this outbreak is because of the very few of them that may not have had shots. I would blame all the old sick people first.

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webmocker 1 year, 11 months ago

Unfortunately, Kansas (like many other states, if not all) also allows exceptions to this requirement, making it less of a requirement and more a strong suggestion.

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