Cases of Pertussis, commonly known as whopping cough, are on the rise in northern Kentucky, health officials announced Monday.
31 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Boone, Kenton, Grant and Campbell counties since November 1. 13 of those cases occurred in the last week of November alone, according to the health department.
In comparison, the region had seven cases of whooping cough in all of November and December of 2014.
NKY health officials say most cases are in kids ages 10 and up, but several cases have been reported in parents of school-aged kids.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing, according to Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health.
“The early symptoms of whooping cough are similar to the common cold and whooping cough is not often suspected or diagnosed until more severe symptoms appear,” said Saddler.
St. Henry School District High School officials posted a letter on their website earlier this month alerting parents the school has a confirmed case of whooping cough.
"All of our students are up-to-date with their immunizations; however, a few students may still get this ailment," the letter states.
The health department lists early symptoms of whooping cough as runny noses, sneezing, low-grade fevers and a mild cough. After a week or two, a persistent cough develops which occurs in explosive bursts, sometimes ending with a high-pitched whoop and vomiting.
Health officials say vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough. The DTap vaccine, which includes vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria, is recommended for young children.
Adults age 19 and older can receive a free Tdap vaccine by appointment at the Health Department’s four county health centers. Children age 18 and under can get the Tdap or DTap vaccine for free through the Vaccines For Children program, provided that they have a Medical card, KCHIP, no health insurance or health insurance that doesn’t cover the vaccine. Most doctors’ offices and many pharmacies offer the vaccine as well. Families of infants born at St. Elizabeth also can get the vaccine after delivery through the hospital.
Because the vaccine protection fades over time, health officials say adults and parents of teens should ensure their DTap shots are up to date. “Vaccination with a DTap is especially critical for school teachers, pregnant women, parents, grandparents and caregivers for infants,” said Saddler.
The Health Department is working with local doctors’ offices, schools and child care centers to provide information about whooping cough transmission and prevention.
Doctors have been reminded to consider whooping cough as a possible diagnosis. Child care centers have been asked to consider having all staff vaccinated and encourage their parents and students to seek vaccination as well, according to the health department.
For more information on whooping cough, visit nkyhealth.org.
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