At this time last year, the Sampson County Health Department investigated approximately 40 cases of Pertussis in Sampson County. We anticipate this will happen again this year, and whether we like it or not, Pertussis has begun to appear again this summer.
Initially, the Health Department was being notified of an occasional case; however, we are now being notified of two or three case at one time in certain areas of the county. Most of the cases have been reported in the school system and in some of the local child care facilities. This is because a large group of people are in close contact with one another. This is why we strongly encourage children and adults both to make sure they are fully vaccinated to protect themselves against Pertussis.
Because Pertussis symptoms are initially identical to that of the common cold, it is often not suspected or misdiagnosed until symptoms worsen. Symptoms often usually begin as a runny nose with or without a fever. Also, many people expect to hear the “whooping” sound with the cough and this may not be the case.
Older children, teens and adults that may have been previously vaccinated may have a regular sounding cough that lasts for a much longer period of time compared to the cough related to the common cold. Antibiotics can shorten the infection period of Pertussis and can also prevent the virus from being spread from one person to the next.
This is why it is very important than anyone, especially children in schools and daycare centers who are experiencing cold symptoms as well as a fever, should stay home and contact their doctor.
Infants do not receive their first vaccine for Pertussis until they are usually 8 weeks old. That is why it is vital that pregnant women, parents, grandparents, household contacts and caregivers of infants and young children make sure they are currently vaccinated. This helps protect the infant or young child from exposure that may cause severe complications, even death, because their immune system does not protect them from Pertussis.
The Sampson County Health Department is constantly monitoring the rise in Pertussis cases and are working closely with providers across the county as well. The public can play a huge role in preventing the spread of Pertussis by doing the following:
• Contact your provider if you suspect that you or someone in your home may have Pertussis.
• Make sure your children as well as yourself are up to date on your immunizations.
• If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you receive a Tdap during your last trimester to protect yourself as well as your unborn baby. This vaccine should be offered to you during that time.
• If you are a close contact to a newborn or any child under 1 year of age, you should receive a Tdap vaccine. This not only protects you, but protects these children as well as they have not received all of their vaccines yet.
• If you have a compromised immune system, please talk with your provider about receiving the Tdap vaccine.
If you have any questions or comments about Pertussis or would like to receive more information about this disease, please feel free to contact the Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131 Ext. 4247, 4248, 4972 or 4968. If you would like to make an appointment to receive the Tdap vaccine, please call us at 910-592-1131 Ext. 4001, 4960, or 4220.