Pertussis cases on the rise for 2012
State officials have reported an increase in the number of pertussis cases, with the number of confirmed cases in the first five months of 2012 already outnumbering the total number of cases in 2011.
Fifty-six confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment as of June 11. In 2011, only 52 confirmed cases were reported for the entire year. During 2011 and 2012, KDHE and local health departments have investigated eight outbreaks, including the ongoing outbreak in Johnson County.
KDHE is encouraging everyone, including adults, to check with their health care provider on their vaccination status and to get vaccinated if not up to date. The Wyandotte County Health Department is offering free vaccines from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Fridays and 8:30-11 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. Thursdays at the department, 619 Ann Ave., Kansas City, Kan. For more information, contact the department at 913-321-4803.
The vaccine is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, called DTaP, and it is recommended for children age 2 months through 6 years old. A pertussis vaccine for adolescents and adults, called Tdap, is recommended as a one-time booster. It is especially important for anyone who has close contact with babies younger than 12 months.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but is most serious for infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated or who are not fully protected. It causes cold-like symptoms followed by a long, severe cough that can last for weeks. Adolescents and adults often have a milder disease but can still spread it.
Individuals with symptoms should contact their healthcare provider about antibiotic treatment that can shorten the time when they are contagious. Those with pertussis should be isolated from school, work or other activities until completing at least the first five days of the recommended antibiotic therapy.