Independence sees increase in whooping cough cases

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Pertussis Vaccine

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence Health Department is currently investigating cases of Pertussis, or whooping cough, which have more than doubled in 2016.

To date in 2016, Independence has recorded 10 cases. For the same time period in 2015, there were 4 cases and in 2014 for the same time period, we investigated 17 cases in Independence.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease that is spread by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space.

Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and a cough that becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (“coughing fits”) followed by a whooping noise. Coughing may be followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching one’s breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help the cough. There is generally no fever. Because pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold, it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear.

Infected people are most contagious up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious.

Infants under one year, and particularly under six months, are most likely to experience severe illness if they develop pertussis.The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) among babies, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated.  The recommended pertussis vaccine for babies and children is called DTaP. This is a combination vaccine that helps protect against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and should be administered in 5 doses: at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age and 4 – 6 years of age. Because the childhood vaccination wears off, there is a booster immunization, Tdap, for adolescents and adults. Teens who did not get this vaccine at the 11- or 12-year-old check-up should get vaccinated. All adults who have not previously received a Tdap vaccine need a Tdap shot. Being up-to-date with Tdap vaccine is especially important for adults who are around babies.