Officials recommend that doctors test for whooping cough and urge parents, caregivers and siblings to get a whooping cough booster
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Department of Public Health and Wellness is seeing a spike in whooping cough (pertussis) cases throughout Louisville. In 2018 there were 62 cases, sixteen in the last two months of the year. This compares to only 27 cases in Louisville for all of 2017.
“We recommend that physicians test for whooping cough in patients who have a cough that persists for two weeks or more,” said Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.
“We also urge that parents of infants and young children, as well as brothers, sisters, grandparents and those who provide care be immunized against whooping cough,” said Dr. Caloia.
“Even if parents, grandparents and care givers have been immunized against whooping cough as children,” said Dr. Caloia, “immunity can wear off over time. Parents, grandparents and care givers can then infect young children. We recommend that they receive a one-time dose of adolescent/adult tetanus-diphtheria-acellular (Tdap) vaccine if they have not already done so,” said Caloia.
Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract 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 apnea, a pause in their breathing pattern, and in some cases may even turn blue. About half of infants younger than 1 year who get the disease need hospital care.
The best way to prevent whooping cough is through vaccination. 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 Department of Public Health and Wellness advises parents and physicians that infants should receive a series of DTaP immunizations at ages 2, 4, and 6 months, with boosters at ages 15-18 months and at 4-6 years. Children should then get a single dose of Tdap vaccine at 11 to 12 years of age.
Pregnant women should receive a single dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
Parents should check with their physicians to see if their child has been immunized against whooping cough. Parents who do not have health insurance should contact the Department of Public Health and Wellness at 574-6520.