FLAGSTAFF – The Coconino County Public Health Services District (CCPHSD) has confirmed an increase in pertussis (whooping cough) illness in Coconino County. CCPHSD is reminding individuals of the importance of vaccinations for both children and adults.
Early symptoms of pertussis are mild and cold-like, including runny nose, sneezing and coughing that becomes more persistent. Pertussis is easily spread when an infected person coughs. It can cause spells of violent coughing and gasping for breath in young children and can last weeks. Children often make a “whooping” noise when they breathe. This disease is most serious for babies under one year old, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women.
Adults who get pertussis often have a cough, but don’t “whoop”. Unfortunately, many adults with pertussis are not treated and pass this disease on to others, possibly young children. Pertussis is easily spread from person to person. Transmission usually occurs by sharing close breathing space with an infected individual that is coughing or sneezing.
Any adults or children who have a cough that has lasted for over 14 days should be evaluated by their health care provider, especially if the illness includes coughing fits, vomiting after coughing, or whooping. Antibiotics are available to treat the infection and prevent further spreads of the disease.
Immunization is extremely important for the prevention and control of pertussis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine for infants and children through age 6. Tdap vaccinations, which contain protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, are recommended for preteens, teens and adults and should be given to 7 – 10 year olds who are not fully vaccinated against the illness. Pertussis vaccinations are required by the State of Arizona for school attendance. Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/ for more information.
Pregnant women are encouraged to get Tdap with every pregnancy during weeks 27-36 regardless of previous vaccinations to provide optimal protection to the infant.
Adults who have close contact with infants (parents, grandparents, childcare providers and healthcare providers) should get a dose of Tdap. Getting vaccinated with Tdap – at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant – is especially important for families with, and caregivers of, new infants.
Vaccinations are available from healthcare providers or the Coconino County Public Health Services District Clinic, 2625 N. King Street, Flagstaff. Call the CCPHSD Clinic at 928.679.7222 for an appointment or for more information.