Written by The Herald-News
As of Dec. 10, four cases of pertussis have been confirmed in school-aged children in the county. The Roosevelt County Health Department is encouraging the public to make sure their pertussis vaccinations are up to date.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age. Whooping cough is spread by direct contact with respiratory, oral or nasal secretions from a symptomatic patient, direct face to face contact with a symptomatic case patient or by sharing confined space in close proximity for a prolonged period of time with a symptomatic case patient.
Pertussis symptoms can present differently depending on your age and vaccination history. The illness starts with symptoms similar to a common cold. Children suffering from whooping cough often develop coughing fits, especially at night, giving a high-pitched “whoop” sound. The “whoop” is a sign that the person is struggling to breathe between coughs. The disease can be very severe and, although deaths are rare, they do occur, especially in infants less than one year of age. Adults and children seven years and older usually develop a much milder form of pertussis.
Anyone who is suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease should be seen by their physician for evaluation. It is especially important that parents monitor their children for cough-like illness and withhold them from school until it has been determined that they do not have whooping cough.
Making sure that children receive all immunizations on time and are up-to-date on their vaccinations is the best way to control this disease in the future. Children should receive four doses of DTaP vaccine by 15 months of age and another dose of DTaP before starting school. In addition, a (Tdap) booster is highly recommended before entry into the seventh- grade.
Parents are urged to check his/her child’s immunization records to be sure they are fully immunized. If you are unsure that your child is completely immunized, you need to contact your family physician or the health department. Roosevelt County Health Department offers Tdap vaccine throughout the year and walk-ins are welcome.
Roosevelt County expressed their appreciation to school personnel, parents and health care providers who are working diligently to decrease and stop the spread of pertussis.
For more information, contact the Roosevelt County Health Department at 653-6223.