Health Officer urges parents to immunize children to prevent this disease
Local public health officials report an uptick in the number of cases of pertussis, also called “whooping cough,” reported in Snohomish County so far in 2011. Sixteen cases of pertussis were reported to the Snohomish Health District in January, and an additional 27 cases had been reported as of February 24. The Health District reported a total of 25 confirmed cases of the illness for all of 2010.
“Whooping cough is a preventable disease, and every child should be fully immunized against it,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of Snohomish Health District. “It’s important to surround infants with a protective ‘cocoon’ of immunity,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “Anyone with a cough needs to stay away from small children, and all caretakers and family of babies should be immunized.” Small children and infants are especially at risk of illness.
The initial symptoms of pertussis appear as an ordinary cold, with runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. It progresses within two weeks to include severe coughing in fits or spasms followed by a whooping sound, and vomiting. Listen to the sounds of whooping cough here: www.whoopingcough.net/symptoms.htm.
Of the January and February cases, 7 were infants younger than 1 year old; 9 were young children age 1-5; 12 were age 6-17; and 15 were adults. The cases occurred throughout the county. No schools have been closed for pertussis outbreaks; cautionary letters have gone home to student families in several schools where a child was confirmed to have pertussis.
Between 2006 and 2010, the number of reported cases in Snohomish County ranged between 21 (2006) and 47 (2008). In recent years, the rate of pertussis illness in the county was greatest in 2003, with 95 cases reported at a rate of 14.9/100,000 population. The lowest was in 2006, with 21 cases reported at a rate of 3.1/100,000.
Immunization. DTaP (diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis) vaccine is administered at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, 12-18 months of age, plus 1 dose after age 4 years for a total of five doses. A Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis) shot for teens ages 11-18 years is routinely recommended. Adults age 19 and older should also be vaccinated with Tdap to supplement immunity that wanes over the years.
Find additional information about pertussis at www.cdc.gov and www.snohd.org.