Pertussis, or "whooping cough", is in our community, and larger outbreaks have also been reported all over the country.
Whooping cough results in a harsh, dry, persistent cough that lasts for many weeks and is very disruptive. It is called whooping cough because some people cough for so long that they making a whooping sound when they gasp for air in between the coughing fits. It is highly contagious, and poses a particular threat to infants in the first few months of life.
Although no one locally has died from the infection, a number of infant deaths have occurred in other parts of the country. While it can be successfully treated with antibioticsin the early stages of the illness, by the time most people come to the doctor, they have already infected many of their family and friends, and it is often too late for antibiotics to be of help.
The best protection against whooping cough (or pertussis) is vaccination, which is required for day care, kindergarten, and middle school entry. While the vaccine is highly effective, it does not completely eliminate the possibility of getting whooping cough. If your child has had a recent well visit with us, you can be confident that their pertussis vaccination is up to date.
However, most adults have not been vaccinated against whooping cough since they themselves were young, and are at high risk for getting the infection and passing it on to their children. If you are a caregiver of a young child in a home, day care or school setting, check with your doctor to make sure that you have had a whooping cough/pertussis vaccination within the last three years, when the vaccine known as "TdaP" first became available for adults.