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9 pertussis cases reported locally

pertussis

Logan County Health District officials reported this morning that nine county residents have been diagnosed with confirmed cases of pertussis.

The first date of onset was April 22, with two local elementary school students affected with the respiratory illness. The school appropriately informed all families within the district.

Historically, Logan County sees three to five pertussis cases per year. Last year, the county had 16 sporadic cases, but these cases were without common links, which is different from the connected cases this year, LCHD officials said.

Pertussis also known as whooping cough because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing making it hard to breathe. Coughing fits because of pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more.

Early symptoms can last for one to two weeks and usually include: runny nose, low-grade fever (minimal throughout the course of the disease), mild, occasional cough; and in infants, a pause in breathing, called apnea.

As the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of pertussis appear and include: paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop”, vomiting and exhaustion after coughing fits.

While pertussis vaccines are the most effective tool to prevent this disease, no vaccine is 100 percent effective. When pertussis circulates in a community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease.

“This makes it difficult for doctors, since the symptoms become modified by the prior immunization,” Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd C. Hoddinott said. “But if you have been vaccinated, the infection is usually less severe.

“If you or your child develops a cold which includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts a long time, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your physician.”

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, to control the symptoms and prevent infected people from the spread of the disease.   

Some simple basics to keep pertussis from spreading:

• Wash your hands with soap and water;

• Cover your coughs and sneezes;

• Don’t share cups or silverware; and

• Stay away from others until evaluated by a physician.

Further information is available at www.loganhealth.org.

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