Warm Southern Breeze

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Pertusis, aka “Whooping Cough” increases in Madison County Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, February 24, 2012

You, the reader, may also be interested to know that Governor Robert Bentley, on June 11, 2011, ordered all 67 Public Health Departments in Alabama to cease performing Tuberculosis skin tests for the public.

What else will this Republican governor do to endanger public health?

Three more cases of whooping cough reported in Madison County; total now 11

Published: Friday, February 24, 2012, 11:40 AM
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012, 1:45 PM
 By Chris Welch, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times
 Chris Welch, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, AlabamaThe Madison County Health Department reported three more cases of whooping cough at Randolph School, Riverton Intermediate School and a 4-year-old. That ups the total number of the highly-contagious respiratory disease to 11, according to Dr. Debra Williams of the Madison County Health Department.

That number is about the average number of Whooping Cough cases, medically known as Pertussis, in Huntsville gets every year, Williams said, and there’s no reason to panic about it. Williams said she’s put in a call to the Alabama Department of Health to see if there have been any number of cases elsewhere in the state.

Pertussis is known for a distinct, uncontrollable and violent cough that makes it difficult to breathe. The struggle for breath produces the “whooping” sound that gives the illness its name.

“It’s still pretty much in that one school (Riverton),” Williams said of the Pertussis cases. “We’re starting to see an occasional case elsewhere.

“We see Pertussis every year. It’s not unusual to see Pertussis. What’s unusual is all the children who have it have been immunized. That makes us worry about the immunizations.”

Williams was speaking about the Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis immunizations all children are required to get. They get five doses of the DTaP vaccine, one at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years.

According to the health department, the vaccine was required of students entering the seventh grade this school year.

Next year, the vaccine will be required of incoming eighth-graders, with the requirement being pushed back a grade each year through 2016-2017, when it will be required of 12th-graders.

Adults are also recommended to be vaccinated for the illness if they anticipate being in close contact with an infant under the age of 1.

“It’s airborne,” Williams said. “That’s how it transmits. If you come in contact with Pertussis, you need to check with your personal doctor.”

Williams said the Madison County Health Department doesn’t do the Pertussis testing. She advises to continue with good hand washing and make sure your children’s immunizations are up to date.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pertussis most often affects infants and children and can be fatal, particularly in babies under the age of 1.

The disease is typically spread by someone coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Babies often are infected by parents, caregivers or older siblings who do not even know they have been infected.

Symptoms of the illness usually develop within seven to 10 days of infection, though it can take as long as six weeks, the CDC reports. The early symptoms — which in themselves can last for up to two weeks — include a runny nose, low-grade fever, mild cough and apnea, or a pause in a child’s breathing.

Alabama saw a spike in Pertussis cases in recent years, going from 69 cases in 2008 to 305 in 2009, the Alabama Department of Public Health reports. There were 205 cases of the illness in 2010 and 100 in 2011.

To learn more about Pertussis, visit www.adph.org or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.

To find out more about being vaccinated for the illness, call the Madison County Health Department at 256-539-3711.

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