published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Whooping cough reported in county
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Two confirmed cases of pertussis have been identified in Highlands County, the Highlands County Health Department says. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can be fatal for infants.
The respiratory disease is caused by bacteria that is spread through coughing and sneezing and ordinary, everyday touching (much like the common cold).
According to www.soundsofpertussis.com/, 83 percent of deaths from pertussis occur in infants under 43 months. More than 60 percent of babies younger than 12 months are hospitalized due to the disease.
"Pertussis is endemic, which means it is naturally occurring in the United States," said health department Planning Consultant Tom Moran.
One case of the disease was confirmed in 2012. Before then, 2008 was the last year any local cases were confirmed by the health department.
Whooping cough can easily be confused with a normal bad cough in children, which can cause the disease to sometimes go undetected.
Within two or three days of a mild sore throat, the symptoms begin to evolve. A dry, ordinary cough begins to linger for seven to 10 days; after two weeks what can be described as choking coughs occur in intervals.
"Choking cough that lasts from 1 to 2 minutes, often with vomiting, severe facial congestion and a feeling or appearance of suffocation," a second whooping cough website describes.
The disease gets its name from the "whoop" sound that can be heard as a child struggles to breathe between coughing spells.
Whooping cough can also be identified by the production of a very thick, sticky, clear and difficult to shift phlegm. Long intervals, often hours, of no coughing are likely to occur in a child ailing from the disease. The sickness can last anywhere from two weeks to months.
Any symptoms of whooping cough should immediately be checked out at a doctor visit.
The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens and adults. Both vaccines are available at the Florida Department of Health in Highlands County and are available at no charge for children up to age 18 and for adults age 19-26 who are uninsured or underinsured.
"Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community," said Mary Kay Burns, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Highlands County.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy" said Barbara Moore, nursing director. "The best time for this vaccine is the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. Vaccination of all adults, parents, grandparents and caregivers, as well as siblings in the household, also provides a cocoon of protection around the newborn infant."
Vaccinations are available throughout Highlands County at 10 of the local CVS pharmacies, Walgreen's and Publix pharmacies.
Adults are also susceptible to whooping because most vaccinations for the disease have worn off by the time a person reaches adulthood.
For more information on vaccine or an appointment call the Florida Department of Health in Highlands County 386-6040.
To hear the sounds or whooping cough or see videos describing the symptoms log on to www.soundsofpertussis.com/.
Small Banner Ads