Protect your family from pertussis

Rates of pertussis (whooping cough) have increased dramatically in Atlanta and many other areas of the US. Below is a press release from the Georgia Department of Health. Protect your family– make sure that everyone in your household has had their recommended vaccines!

Whooping Cough Cases Increase in Metro Atlanta
Adolescents, teens and adults may need booster shot
ATLANTA– Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has recently increased in the eight-county metropolitan Atlanta area of: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett,
Newton, and Rockdale counties. As of July 28, 2012, 95 cases of whooping cough have been reported, compared to 51 cases during the same time period last year. “Though we have not seen a substantial increase in the number of whooping cough cases statewide, the increase in whooping cough cases in highly-populated metro-Atlanta is of concern,” said state epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek, D.V.M.  The increase is similar to national trends, as the U.S. appears to be headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported nationally so far—more than twice the number seen last year.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages, but is most serious in infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated or who aren’t fully protected. Whooping cough brings cold-like symptoms followed by a long, severe cough that can last for weeks or months. Sometimes a “whoop” sound occurs while gasping for breath during a coughing episode. However, the sound is not always present.
Adolescents and adults often get a much milder case of whooping cough and may not realize they have the disease, though they can still spread it.
 “This disease can be very serious for young babies, who often get whooping cough from adults and other family members. Most infected infants must be hospitalized,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of health protection. Whooping cough vaccines are recommended for all children and adults, as the shots children receive wear off over time. Everyone age 11 and older should get a whooping cough booster, called Tdap. It’s especially important for those in close contact with babies younger than 12 months. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, healthcare providers, and child care providers.