Montgomery County is having a community pertussis outbreak (more cases than expected based on historical trends).

  1. In 2023, there have been 62 cases, including 48 cases occurring in the past 3 months
  2. By comparison, in all of 2022 there were a total of 13 cases.

Symptoms: In its early stages, whooping cough appears similar to the common cold, with a runny nose, a mild cough, and a low-grade fever. As it progresses, coughing fits can become severe. Following a series of coughs, a quick inhale can sound like a “whoop”. Vomiting can occur with coughing fits. Coughing may last for a few week or even a few months. Babies may not cough at all; they may turn blue and struggle to breath. Pertussis can cause complications in all ages, although serious complications are more likely in babies under one year old.

This year in Montgomery County cases have ranged in age from 2 months to 81 years. Seven cases have required hospitalization for pertussis. About half of the cases in the last three months have been in school age children. More than 1 in 4 children with pertussis attended daycare.

Spread: Pertussis is spread easily person to person through the air. Unlike many other respiratory viruses circulating this time of year, pertussis is caused by a bacteria and this infection can be treated with an antibiotic.

When an individual tests positive for pertussis, antibiotics are also recommended to prevent pertussis for all individuals living in the same household and contacts most at risk of severe disease, including infants, pregnant women, and people who have weakened immune systems, or breathing problems like asthma.

Pertussis is a reportable disease to Public Health. Public Health communicable disease staff contacts each individual who tests positive for pertussis to do a case investigation and provides guidance to families, schools, daycare centers, and healthcare providers. With this community outbreak, Public Health proactively disseminated information to all schools and daycares in Montgomery County as well as releasing a press release to the media and a Health Action Alert to healthcare providers with recommended actions to limit pertussis transmission.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of pertussis. Children are vaccinated with 5 doses of DTaP before entering kindergarten. The immunity from vaccination decreases with time, and a booster dose of Tdap is required in Ohio before starting 7th grade. All adults are recommended to get at least one dose of Tdap during their lifetime. Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy to protect their newborn baby.

Additional ways that we can all stay healthy and prevent the spread of pertussis and other respiratory illnesses in our community included covering coughs and sneezes, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and getting tested and also treated when appropriate.

Election Day is Tuesday November 7th- Why is voting important for health?

Voting offers a chance for people to impact personal health and well-being and to contribute to decisions that affect their communities. The community conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age shape our health, well-being, and quality of life. These conditions, or social determinants of health, include quality education, safe housing and neighborhoods, ease of transportation, employment opportunities, and access to health care. Laws, regulations, and economic priorities implemented at government levels determine many of the conditions in which we live and how easy or difficult it is for us to be healthy individually and as a community. Choosing to vote is one of the most important choices we can make for our health. Because the act of voting is so impactful, in 2022 the American Medical Association, passed a policy resolution declaring voting itself to be a social determinant of health.

Which policies are enacted shapes who is more likely to vote. People with good mental and physical health are more likely to vote. The opposite is also true. People who don’t vote are more likely to report that they have poor health. Some of the same barriers to health are also barriers to voting. These barriers tend to impact people with low incomes, lower education levels, and people of color more than other population groups. The result is an underrepresentation of these communities in important policy decisions that shape health and wellbeing. States with fewer barriers to voting tend to be healthier.

How does voting, as an act of civic engagement, support health?

  • When communities vote they shape policy decisions that affect schools, job creation, green spaces, public transit, and other infrastructure that improves public health and determines the extent to which people have the opportunity to make healthy choices in daily life.
  • Higher levels of voter participation can decrease differences in health outcomes. For instance, rates of infant mortality are higher among Black communities than white communities, but this disparity shrinks for all racial and ethnic groups in states that have higher levels of voter participation.
  • Voting can help individuals develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment, increase confidence, and promote positive beliefs about decision making and change.
  • Voting is an important way that we build social inclusion and belonging as communities. Voting is the single largest participatory event across the United States. Despite differing beliefs, it represents a common commitment to a democratic process. Communities with inclusive voting policies enjoy greater social connectedness, improved community conditions, and better health.

Increasing the proportion of voting age Americans who vote is a high priority “core” objective of Healthy People 2030 national goals to improve health and well-being in the United States. Voting is our opportunity to impact all the social conditions which make it easier or harder for us to be healthy and have a good quality of life.  Voting is a pathway to better health for all.

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