Health officials investigate spike in whooping cough cases

Staff Report
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS —Hoosiers need to be wary of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, after an increase in cases across the state.

In the first half of 2017, 136 cases of pertussis have been already confirmed in Indiana. That is more than twice the cases the state saw in the same period of 2016. The Indiana State Department is expecting to see an increase in cases due to pertussis’ cyclical nature.

“Pertussis is very contagious and can cause serious complications, especially in young infants,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said in a statement. “I urge Hoosiers to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated and following good cough etiquette and handwashing practices.”

Pertussis is a bacterial illness transmitted by nose or throat droplets. Symptoms usually occur seven to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms include a prolonged cough and bursts of coughing that can lead to loss of breath or vomiting.

Infants are especially susceptible and can suffer serious illness while older children and adults can experience mild cases. Infants with pertussis can experience poor feeding, weight loss, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, seizures or death.

Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics, but it can be prevented by the DTaP vaccine for children under 7 years old and the Tdap vaccine for children and adults over 10 years old. A routine pertussis booster is recommended for the vaccination schedule of children aged 11 or 12. Even though pertussis can still occur in people who are fully immunized, the symptoms are usually milder.

Women are encouraged to receive a dose of Tdap during pregnancy to protect infants. Anyone caring for young children should check to ensure they are fully immunized against pertussis to prevent spreading the illness.

Anyone with a prolonged cough are encouraged to see a healthcare provider to determine if they need to be treated for pertussis. Those who are unsure if they are vaccinated should consult their healthcare provider or local healthcare department. The department of health also offers online access to immunization records through MyVaxIndiana.in.gov which allows individuals access to their own immunization record after receiving information from their healthcare provider.

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