2013-11-14 / Lifestyles

LMAS: What to know about Pertussis

MANISTIQUE – Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection most commonly known as whooping cough or the 100- day cough. A vaccine introduced in the 1940s, was thought to have eradicated Pertussis from the United States by the 1980s. Unfortunately, due to waning immunity in teens and adults, combined with lower vaccination rates in infants and children, Pertussis is making resurgence both nationally, and in the state of Michigan.

Infection with the Bordetella Pertussis (the bacteria which causes Pertussis illness), may start with a runny nose, low-grade fever, and a cough – similar to what most would call a commoncold. After about a week, the infected person may begin to have extreme coughing spells in which they make a gasping “whoop” sound as they try to bring air into their lungs. Infants with Pertussis may not cough at all, gasp for air, turn red in the face, and may stop breathing for a few seconds at a time.

When a person with Pertussis coughs or sneezes, they spread bacteria through the air. To understand how contagious Pertussis can be, it is important to note that a person with Pertussis may infect another 12-15 people, while a person with influenza is likely to infect one or two other people.

• Infants less than 12 months of age are at greatest risk of Pertussis infection, with 50 percent of infected infants requiring hospitalization. About 2 percent of infants hospitalized with Pertussis will die.

• What to do:

• Make sure that infants and young children receive their full series of five DTaP(1) vaccinations:

- One dose given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age

- One dose given between 15 and 18 months of age

- One dose given between the ages of 4 and 6 years old

• Children need a booster dose of Tdap(2) given at about 11 or 12 years old.

• Teens and adults who did not receive a booster as a pre-teen, should receive one dose of Tdap, even if they were fully vaccinated as a child or had Pertussis as a child. Immunity does decrease over time.

• Call your healthcare provider or your local health department and make sure you and your family are current for all vaccinations, including your annual Influenza vaccine and Pertussis.

Residents of Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties with questions about Pertussis or wish to schedule a vaccination may contact the LMAS District Health Department at: Schoolcraft - 341-6951; Luce (906) 293-5107; Mackinac - (906) 643-1100; and Alger (906) 387-2297.

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