The whooping cough is making its rounds in the U.S. and researchers say it is caused by a germ that may be resistant to the current vaccine.
The most recent cases were first reported in France, Japan and Finland; then the disease began appearing throughout the US and now, there have been a few cases reported in Johnson City.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the nearly 42,000 U.S. cases last year - at least 18 fatal - are the most in six decades, and it’s possible the new strain of the highly contagious disease is the culprit.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is currently investigating one confirmed case and three probable cases of “Pertussis,” more commonly known as “Whooping Cough,” in Johnson City.
According to health officials, the disease is caused by bacteria infecting the mouth, nose, and throat and is very contagious. It is spread through the air by coughing, and is usually mild in older children and adults, but can often cause serious problems in babies under 1 year of age.
On July 9th, JCISD administration sent home a letter to families informing them of the cases. According to the letter, “Pertussis symptoms appear five to twenty-one days after infection. Usually only close contacts of students pertussis become infected. Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms (sneezing and a runny nose) and a cough that gradually becomes worse. After one to two weeks the cough usually occurs in strong “coughing fits”. In young children, this is often followed by a whooping noise as they try to catch their breath. After coughing, a person may have difficulty catching their breath, vomit, or become blue in the face from lack of air. Between coughing spells, the person may appear well. There is generally no fever. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help reduce the coughing. Coughing fits can last six weeks or longer. Adults, teens, and vaccinated children have milder symptoms similar to bronchitis or asthma.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services suggests the following:
1. If your child has not been vaccinated with Tdap vaccine, talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of this vaccine (children must be over 10 years of age to receive Tdap vaccine).
2. If you child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk to your child’s doctor. Tell the doctor that pertussis has been reported in your child’s school. Report possible pertussis infection to the school nurse.
3. Babies under one of age are most likely to have serious illness. When possible, babies should be kept away from people with a cough. Any baby with a coughing illness should be seen by their doctor as soon as possible.
4. If you have children who are less than 7 years old, and who have not been completely vaccinated for pertussis (with DTP or DTaP), particularly babies under one year of age), talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of vaccination.
For more information about pertussis, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services, Immunization Division at (254) 778-6744, x2416.