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K-State Today

February 14, 2012

Pertussis, or whooping cough, update

Submitted by Julie Gibbs

The Riley County Health Department continues to work with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and community health partners, including Lafene Health Center, to identify and stop the spread of pertussis in Riley County. Fourteen possible cases have been reported and investigated.

"The remarkable aspect of our situation with pertussis is not the number of persons becoming ill, it is the severe impact of pertussis on infants and how easy it is for adults to help prevent this disease," said Susanne Kufahl, health officer for Riley County. "Vaccination is the best overall defense."

Pertusis is a bacterial disease that is easily transmitteed from person to person. It spreads through the air during talking, sneezing or coughing. Young children may have more serious coughing fits, often followed by a whooping sound as they try to catch their breath. Adults and children 7 years of age and older who get whooping cough may have only a prolonged cough.

Vaccination for pertussis is required for young children at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of age with a booster at kindergarten entry. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that persons 11 years of age through 64 years of age be vaccinated as well.  The Tdap vaccine – for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertusis – is available at Lafene Health Center. It is covered by many insurances.

"If you are due for a Tetanus shot, you can get Tdap instead for added protection for you and the children in your family and community," said Cathie Barry, Lafene associate clinical director.