Whooping cough suspected in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Health Department is reporting two confirmed cases of pertussis in the county and three suspected cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, that are under investigation.

“It is critical that children, as well as their parents, get vaccinated for Pertussis to prevent this difficult and highly contagious illness, which can be easily spread to other family members and community members,” said Carolyn Muller, Montgomery County Health Department’s nursing director. “This should help reduce the number of cases in children who are too young to be fully vaccinated.”

The single most effective control measure is immunization of the most vulnerable population against Pertussis. Immunization is recommended at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of age with a booster at kindergarten entry.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that persons 11 years of age through 64 years of age receive the Tetanus and Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. ACIP recommends that adults aged 65 years and older (grandparents, child-care providers, and health care practitioners ) who have or who anticipate having close contact with an infant less than 12 months of age and who previously have not received TDAP should receive a single dose of TDAP to protect against Pertussis and reduce the likelihood of transmission.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a bacterial disease that is easily transmitted from person to person. It is spread through the air during talking, sneezing or coughing. It can be a serious illness, especially for young infants, said Muller. During the first one to two weeks, persons with whooping cough may only experience a runny nose and non-productive cough similar to a cold. Young children may have more serious coughing fits, often followed by a whooping sound as they try to catch their breath. Coughing spells may continue for several weeks or months. Adults and children seven (7) years of age and older who get whooping cough may show only a prolonged cough.

Although whooping cough is often thought of as a childhood disease, whooping cough can occur among persons of any age.

Anyone with an unexplained acute cough illness or who has had close contact to a person with whooping cough should contact their health care provider. Early diagnosis and treatment can shorten the contagious period. Antibiotics should be given to all household and other close contacts to prevent spread of the disease

Parents are also advised to keep infants, especially those less than 6 months of age, away from persons with a coughing illness. Infants are more likely to experience severe illness if they develop whooping cough.

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