NORTHERN KENTUCKY - The Northern Kentucky Health Department said on Wednesday that Northern Kentucky is now among the regions of the country experiencing higher than usual numbers of whooping cough.
This illness can be severe for infants under the age of 1.
Since January, 39 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Northern Kentucky. Usually, the average has only been 25 cases per year from the years 2003 to 2009. Of the cases reported so far, seven were for children under the age of one.
“Pertussis can cause serious illness, hospitalization and death — especially in infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Lynne M. Saddler, District Director of Health, in a press release. “Because vaccine protection fades over time, anyone who plans to be around infants should be vaccinated with the Tdap shot.”
The health department said parents of young children should also make sure that their child has been vaccinated for whooping cough, typically given in a combination shot called DTaP, which includes vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria as well. The vaccine is usually given in five doses, with the doses at two months, four months, six months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years of age.
“We are also seeing a significant number of cases in children age 9 to 11,” Saddler said in a press release. “If you have a child in this age group, make sure that he/she is up-to-date on vaccinations, particularly if your pre-teen spends time around infants. In fact, vaccination may be required for school entry, and can be given during back-to-school medical appointments.”
The DTaP vaccine is available for $4 by appointment at the Health Department’s four county health centers. For locations and phone numbers, visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/locations. Most doctors’ offices and many pharmacies offer the vaccine as well. Families of infants born at St. Elizabeth can also get the vaccine after delivery through the hospital.
The early symptoms of whooping cough include: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough. After a week or two, a persistent cough develops which occurs in explosive bursts, sometimes ending with a high-pitched whoop and vomiting. Individuals who have a cough lasting more than two weeks and/or one that progressively gets worse are advised to contact their health care provider. Anyone with a cough should avoid contact with young children.
“Vaccination offers the best protection against whooping cough,” Saddler said in a press release. “But no vaccination is 100 percent effective and people who are fully vaccinated can still become infected with a mild case of the illness. In those instances, it is important for people who are ill to stay home and avoid contact with others, especially infants or those who may be at risk for serious complications from the disease.”
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