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Health officials remind you to be alert for whooping cough
e-Reports, July 12, 2010
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Health officials are concerned about increased cases of whooping cough or pertussis, and urge you to be alert for patients presenting with symptoms of the virus.

Dr. Duwve
Joan Duwve, M.D.,
ISDH Medical Director

“Already, 100 cases have been reported and we expect it to peak this summer,” noted Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). Henry County has reported 27 cases, while Hendricks, Marion, Morgan, Porter, St. Joseph and Wayne counties have had five or more incidences. But all around the state, the trend is growing.

“We suggest physicians start treatment and not wait for laboratory confirmation. Antibiotics will shorten the infectious period of pertussis, but will not shorten the duration of symptoms unless provided very early in the course of illness,” Dr. Duwve said.

She also issued a reminder about vaccination. “The pertussis booster dose is very important. Beginning with this school year, all children in grades 6 to 12 will be required to have the Tdap booster.”

The ISDH suggests these control measures for patients who may present with whooping cough:

  • Suspect cases and symptomatic close contacts should be excluded from work, school or public gatherings through five days on an appropriate antibiotic. If both are not treated, they should be excluded through 21 days after cough onset.
  • Asymptomatic close contacts should be placed on antibiotics, but they may immediately return to work or school. One exception: Inadequately immunized household contacts under age 7 should be excluded through five days on antibiotics per the Indiana Communicable Disease Rule.
  • Assess the vaccination status of patients. Children under age 7 are eligible for the DTaP vaccine; persons ages 10 through 64 are eligible for the one-time Tdap pertussis booster vaccine. Vaccination following exposure will not prevent illness but will help protect against future exposures.

All suspect cases of pertussis should be reported immediately to the local health department, advised Dr. Duwve.

Find a chart listing appropriate antibiotic therapy for cases and contacts on page 3 here.

Find a complete immunization guideline at the Indiana Government website.

Look for these symptoms of whooping cough

Pertussis occurs in three stages: First, an individual may experience cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose or sneezing. A mild, occasional cough may develop as well.

During the second stage, the cough becomes more severe with bursts of coughing that may cause difficulty catching one’s breath (resulting in a “whoop” sound) or vomiting following coughing. The second stage can last as long as 10 weeks.

Finally, the cough begins to resolve and become less persistent during the third stage. Health care providers are encouraged to consider a diagnosis of pertussis in patients with cough illness.

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