• Subline Title: Upcoming Holiday Gatherings Increase the Risk of Spreading the Disease

As cases of pertussis continue to rise in the area, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County is stressing the importance of vaccination, staying home when sick, and being evaluated by your doctor. In 2023 in Montgomery County, there have been 100 cases, including 86 cases occurring since August 1, with cases ranging in age from 1 week to 81 years. By comparison there were a total of 13 cases in 2022. In addition to the growing number of cases, health officials are concerned that upcoming holiday gatherings will increase the chance of more infections.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.

Pertussis typically begins with cold-like symptoms and sometimes a mild cough or fever before progressing to severe coughing fits which can include uncontrollable, violent coughing and whooping, which can make it difficult to breathe.

Infants and young children often catch the illness from a family member or other caregivers and are most at risk from serious complications. Babies with pertussis may not cough, but may gag and gasp instead, as well as have a symptom known as “apnea,” which is a pause in a child’s breathing pattern. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics, which can reduce symptom severity and spread to others.

In some cases, antibiotics are also recommended for contacts, including other household members and those with risk factors for severe disease including infants, pregnant people, and people with weak immune systems. Adults or children who are having trouble breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

“We are seeing cases coughing for weeks before they seek care and even then they return to school while awaiting test results”, said Dr. Becky Thomas, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s Medical Director. “It is important to stay home when sick, and while awaiting test results to prevent infecting others. Individuals who test positive for pertussis need to stay home until they have completed at least 5 days of antibiotics.”

Immunity, whether from getting the vaccine or from having the disease, wears off over time, leaving previously immune children at risk again by adolescence. Individuals and families providing care to a new baby may need a pertussis booster shot to provide protection for infants who haven’t had a chance to get the full series of vaccinations yet.

Vaccination is still the best protection against pertussis. There are pertussis vaccines for infants, children, adolescents, and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both vaccines provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis diseases. Vaccination does not always prevent people from getting and spreading pertussis, but can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and deaths.

Who Should be Vaccinated?

Infants need a series of four doses of DTaP given at 2, 4, and 6 months, and between 15-18 months of age. A fifth dose is required between ages 4 and 6 years, before starting kindergarten.

Adolescents receive a booster dose at 11-12 years of age. The State of Ohio requires 7th graders receive the Tdap booster.

Pregnant Women
Pregnant women should get vaccinated against pertussis once during each pregnancy. This vaccine provides protection to newborn babies, before they are old enough to receive vaccine themselves.

Any adult who has never received a dose of Tdap should get one.

To schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, contact your healthcare provider, or call the Public Health Clinic at (937) 225-4550.

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