|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • State officials urge caution with pertussis

  • With a recent outbreak of pertussis this year in Riley County, Kan., state and local health officials are reminding residents on ways to prevent the spread of “whooping cough.”

     


    • email print
  • With a recent outbreak of pertussis this year in Riley County, Kan., state and local health officials are reminding residents on ways to prevent the spread of “whooping cough.”
    Though the number of local cases has not been unusually high, officials from the Leavenworth County Health Department urged caution in a release last week on the disease.|
    “Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease found in humans,” the release from the department stated. “In adults, pertussis generally presents as a chronic cough that won't go away. But when an infected adult or older child is around infants, the infant breathes in the bacteria and becomes infected; for an infant, pertussis can be serious and even fatal.”
    The source of the disease is a bacteria. And the onset of its most recognizable symptoms can be slow — as long as two to three weeks in some cases, according to state Epidemiologist Charlie Hunt.
    “It’s not something that will just knock you down,” he said. “A lot of times people will be contagious or coughing for quite some time.”
    Hunt also said a seemingly sudden increase in cases, like the one that occurred in Riley County, is not uncommon.
    There have been six cases of pertussis in the last 12 months, according to Jamie Miller, director of the Leavenworth County Health Department. But of that number, only one has been reported this year.
    Over the same 12-month period, there were 174 reported cases of pertussis in Kansas. Hunt said the statistics may not represent the true number of incidents of pertussis, since patients might not know that they have it.
    There are ways to prevent or hinder the spread of the disease. The best way, according to the health department, is through vaccination. Infants, the group most at risk for contracting pertussis, can be vaccinated starting at two months.
    The full immunization process for infants — the diptheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine — involves a series of shots over a period of about four years, according to information from the health department.
    Because those younger than two months cannot be vaccinated, Hunt said adults need to be aware of their own vaccination records.
    “It’s really important that parents and caregivers of infants are immunized,” he said.
    Those that show symptoms of the disease — generally cold-like symptoms with persistent, sometimes violent coughing spells that can cause patients to make a distinctive “whooping” sound to catch their breath — should stay home or see a doctor.
    “These are really severe coughing fits,” Hunt said.
    He said pertussis can be treated with antibiotics.
    Pertussis vaccines are administered at the Leavenworth County Health Department. They cost $14 for children ages 18 and younger and $50 for adults.

        calendar