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Posted: August 11, 2012 7:02 p.m.

Whooping cough on the rise

Reported cases of pertussis/whooping cough in the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health district are trending similar to both state and national cases.

Since school has started back up and the area enters the fall/winter cold and flu season, the Newton County Health Department officials want to ensure that all Georgia residents are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. The best way to do this is through vaccinations. For whooping cough (pertussis), infants and children should be up to date on their DTaP vaccines. Pre-teens, teens, and adults should receive a booster dose of DTaP for protection.

Because babies normally receive their final pertussis vaccination between 15-18 months, it is particularly important that those around them are vaccinated. The Health Department especially encourages pregnant women and those who will be around infants to receive a pertussis booster. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, healthcare providers and child care providers.

Often, early symptoms of pertussis are mild and mimic the common cold: runny nose, low or no fever, sneezing and mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, symptoms worsen including bad coughing attacks that may lead to: a "whoop" sound, vomiting, problems breathing, difficulty sleeping, and extreme tiredness. Illness may last for weeks to months without appropriate medical treatment. Pertussis is most contagious during the first few weeks when symptoms are generally milder.

If a person has these symptoms, he or she should contact their doctor and ask them if about pertussis. Medical provider can test for the infection and may prescribe an antibiotic that can keep an individual from becoming sicker and spreading the disease to others.

In addition, simple measures including staying home when if experiencing these symptoms, washing hands, and covering a cough go a long way in prevention of pertussis and other contiguous diseases.

 

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