Friday, September 29, 2017

Louisville sees a spike in whooping cough cases in Sept.; health official urges parents to make sure children are immunized

The Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness reports that it is seeing a dramatic spike in whooping cough in infants one year of age and younger.  From Sept. 1 to 26, there were six cases.

“It is vitally important for infants to get their immunizations against whooping cough on schedule,” Public Health and Wellness director Dr. Sarah Moyer said in a news release. “In children this age, the disease can be very serious and even deadly.”

Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants and young children.

In infants, the cough can be minimal or non-existent. Infants may also display sleep apnea, a pause in their breathing pattern, and may even turn blue. About half of infants younger than 1 who get the disease need hospital care.

The best way to prevent whooping cough is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both DTaP and Tdap protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.

The Louisville health department says infants should receive a series of DTaP immunizations at 2, 4, and 6 months, with boosters at 15-18 months and 4-6 years. Children should then get a single dose of Tdap vaccine at 11 to 12.

Pregnant women should receive a single dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Parents of infants and all people who live with an infant or who provide care to an infant should also be immunized against whooping cough.

It is recommended that the infant's family members receive a one-time dose of Tdap if they have not already done so.

 “Even if parents and care givers have been immunized against whooping cough as children, vaccines can wear off over a period of time. Parents and care givers can then infect young children,"  Moyer said.

Parents should check with their physicians to see if their child has been immunized against whooping cough. Parents in Louisville who do not have health insurance should contact the Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6520.

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