Health Department Link: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Bell County Public Health District
As of 05/07/2012, there are 88 (confirmed and probable) cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Bell County residents. Pertussis is caused by bacteria which infect the mouth, nose, and throat. It is spread through the air by coughing. Pertussis is usually mild in older children and adults, but often causes serious problems in babies less than 1 year of age.
Pertussis symptoms appear five to twenty-one days after infection. Usually only close contacts of people with pertussis become infected. Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms (sneezing and a runny nose) and a cough that gradually becomes worse. After one to two weeks, the cough usually occurs in strong “coughing fits.” In young children, this is often followed by a whooping noise as they try to catch their breath. After coughing, a person may have difficulty catching their breath, vomit, or become blue in the face from lack of air. Between coughing spells, the person may appear well. There is generally no fever. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help reduce the coughing. Coughing fits can last six weeks or longer. Adults, teens, and vaccinated children often have milder symptoms, similar to bronchitis or asthma.
It is important to remember that people with pertussis are contagious until they have completed 5 days of antibiotics. According to the Department of State Health Services, children who have pertussis are not permitted to return to school until they have completed 5 days of antibiotics. Persons who are diagnosed with pertussis are advised by their private health care providers to remain home until 5 days of antibiotics are completed. Likewise, the Bell County Public Health District asks that persons with pertussis do not go out into public (work, school, shopping, etc.) until 5 days of antibiotics are completed. Please remember, pertussis is a contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious problems, even death, in infants.
In order to help contain the spread of pertussis, all household and close contacts of someone diagnosed with pertussis should also receive antibiotics, even if they are not coughing. Close contact is generally defined as being within 1-2 feet of someone with pertussis for 1-2 hours. Persons who are household or close contacts, and who do not have a cough, are not contagious and are not asked to stay home during the first 5 days of antibiotic administration.
Please consider the following recommendations from the Bell County Public Health District:
If you have the symptoms described above, please contact your health care provider.
Babies under one year of age are most likely to have severe illness. When possible, babies should be kept away from people with a cough. Any baby with a coughing illness should be seen by their doctor as soon as possible.
If you have children less than 7 years of age who have not been completely vaccinated for Pertussis (with DTP or DTaP) (particularly babies under one year of age), talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of vaccination.
For those 11 years of age and older, if it has been 5 years since your last Tetanus booster, you can receive the Tdap, (Tetanus, Diptheria & Pertussis).
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