Pertussis continues to be on the rise in Utah and in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 18,000 cases have been reported in the United States this year -- more than twice the number reported this time last year. As of July 13, 547 cases of pertussis have been reported in Utah. The greatest incidence continues to occur among infants less than one year of age. Nationwide trends also indicate an increase in pertussis cases among school-age children.
What are the symptoms of pertussis?
The symptoms of pertussis usually occur in two stages. The first stage begins like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing, and possibly a low-grade fever. The second stage of pertussis includes uncontrolled coughing spells.
How is pertussis spread?
The bacteria that cause pertussis are found in the mouths, noses and throats of infected people. The bacteria are spread in the air during sneezing or coughing. Pertussis is very contagious and most unvaccinated people living in a household will get the disease. Once a person is exposed, it takes seven to ten days before the first symptoms appear.
How can you prevent it?
The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. There is a vaccine for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. On July 2, 2012, the Air Force mandated all active duty members be current for Tdap. Members not current for this vaccination will be considered non-deployable if not vaccinated by Jan. 1, 2013. Talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated against pertussis.
The pertussis vaccine is effective in preventing disease when given at the appropriate ages and intervals. It is important that infants and young children receive the pertussis vaccine by the recommended ages to prevent the serious consequences that can result. Equally important is that adolescents and adults be vaccinated against pertussis to protect themselves and others who are too young to be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated due to health conditions.
For more information about the Pertussis vaccines please visit http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/vaccines.html.