Pertussis/Whooping Cough Alert

Pertussis/Whooping Cough Alert
Posted on 12/21/2017
Due to a recent uptick in confirmed cases of Pertussis (also known as Whooping Cough) in school-age children and adults in Mesa County, School District 51 and Mesa County Public Health would like to provide the following information about the symptoms of Pertussis and how to prevent infection. It's especially important for parents and guardians to know the symptoms now so they can recognize them if their children become sick during Winter Break.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and another person breathes in the bacteria. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop 7 to 10 days after exposure.

The classic symptoms of pertussis include:
•Cough that progressively becomes more severe until the person develops coughing fits.
•Vomiting, breathlessness, a change in facial color, and/or a whooping sound may follow the coughing fits.

Students with a persistent cough as described above should be seen by a health care provider. Be sure to tell the health care provider that there was a possible exposure to pertussis.

Once diagnosed with pertussis, a child should stay out of school and activities until completing five full days of antibiotics. If the child does not take the antibiotic he/she cannot return to school until their cough resolves or they have coughed for 21 days, making them noninfectious.

Pertussis may not be a severe illness in fully-immunized children or adults. However, pertussis can be very severe in infants (especially those who have not had 3 doses of pertussis vaccine), resulting in hospitalization, seizures, long-term neurologic problems, and death. Pertussis is easily spread between family members and close contacts.

The Tdap vaccine protects against pertussis, however, it is possible for a fully immunized person to become ill with pertussis because protection can wear off over time. For this reason, Mesa County Public Health is recommending the following:
•Young adults between the ages of 16 and 18 who received the Tdap vaccine at ages 11 or 12 should consider getting a Tdap vaccine as soon as possible
•Anyone 18 years or older should also consider getting a Tdap vaccination if it has been more than two years since they received a Tdap vaccination
•Anyone spending time with a baby should receive a dose of Tdap. Babies who get whooping cough often get it from unvaccinated family members
•If you have a question regarding your child’s vaccination status you can call the school’s health office, your health care provider, or Mesa County Public Health.

During a continued communicable disease outbreak at school, it is possible that students who are exempt from immunizations or are not up-to-date may be required to stay home from school for an extended period of time. Per state law, the state or local public health agency has the authority to quarantine these students from school.

You may call Mesa County Public Health for information regarding immunizations at 248-6900 or contact your primary care provider. For information about pertussis or to report a case please call Mesa County Public Health’s Disease reporting line at 254-4120.
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