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21 cases of whooping cough confirmed in Madison

RICHMOND, Ky. (July 19, 2012) — The Madison County Health Department has confirmed 21 cases of whooping cough and three probable cases as of Friday.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in Pertussis or “whooping cough” cases, according to a spokesperson for the department. Numerous counties in Kentucky have had cases this year.

Whooping cough is a contagious disease caused by bacteria. It is spread from person to person who are in close contact with one another by respiratory droplets. Close contact means spending more than one hour within three feet or less of an infected person.

Symptoms of Pertussis include:

— Cold like symptoms, including a cough that worsens over one to two weeks.

— “Coughing fits” that cause a person to have long sets of coughs without them being able to take a breath in between and end with a “whooping” sound

— A series of coughs that are so strong or last so long that a person vomits, turns blue or cannot catch their breath in between

—   The cough usually gets worse at night, and cough medicine may not help

—   There is usually no fever, and the person may not appear ill in between the coughing episodes

Most children are protected from Pertussis by a series of immunizations (DTaP) they receive during the first four to six years of life. Some children and adults may not be fully immunized against Pertussis, or may have had their protection against the disease fade over the years since their last immunization. Everyone is encouraged to check with their health care provider about the need for a “booster” dose of Pertussis vaccine.

Children and adults age 11 and older can get a new immunization to boost their protection against Pertussis. This vaccine is called Tdap. Persons in this age group are encouraged to check with the doctor who normally gives their immunizations to decide when to get this vaccine.

For adults, if it has been two years or longer since their last dose of Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccine (“tetanus shot”), the CDC recommends they get one dose of Tdap to boost their protection against Pertussis, the health department said.

Because infants and young babies are not fully protected against Pertussis, and are more likely to have severe complications if they get the disease, all pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women and people who care for young children under one year of age (parents, daycare workers, grandparents, etc.) need to be immunized against Pertussis.

Tdap may be available at your regular doctor’s office. Many insurance policies cover the cost of vaccinations.

The Madison County Health Department has a supply of free vaccine for adults and children age 11 and over who do not have insurance or whose insurance does not pay for vaccines.

More information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.