Whooping cough cases reported locally

  • Published
  • 55th Medical Group

The Sarpy County Health Department was contacted and confirmed Pertussis infection, better known as whooping cough, in four local high school students on Nov. 28.

As a result, the health department recommended that students, staff and individuals who have an increased risk of infection should be treated, including those who are unvaccinated, small children and immunocompromised persons.

To date, there have been no cases identified here at Offutt and vaccination against pertussis is part of the normal vaccination series for Airman and their families thus the risk of infection is deemed low.
What is Pertussis?
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a bacteria. It can be serious especially in young, un-immunized or under-immunized children. Infants under a year are at highest risk and are the highest reported age group who get pertussis. School age children age 7-10 also contribute many of the reported pertussis illnesses. Pertussis has often been called the hundred day cough.

Bordetella pertussis is the bacteria that causes whooping cough. These bacteria attach to the respiratory tract and cause inflammation in the upper respiratory tract this hinders clearing airway secretions and causes the coughing spells.

Symptoms of pertussis progress in three stages: the first symptoms are similar to a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever, and mild cough. Within a week or two, the coughing becomes persistent and sometimes ends up with a high-pitched whoop and vomiting and may last up to six weeks. Child may appear well between episodes of the coughing. Attacks may continue for up to 10 weeks or more (convalescence stage) and are more common at night.

Screening/Prevention & Control:
1. If your child is not protected against pertussis, please contact your physician as soon as possible to have your child immunized.  Children who have not received pertussis vaccine may be excluded from any child care or school setting in which a case of pertussis confirmed.  Please notify your child care provider or school if your child has been immunized so his/her records can be updated.
2.  Symptomatic children with cough, fatigue and fever should be excluded from child care and school, pending physician evaluation.
3.  A person with pertussis should not return to work or school until after at least five days of the recommended treatment.

A five day antibiotic treatment course should be administered to all close contacts (Close contacts of cases include household contacts and others who have prolonged, close exposure) of persons with pertussis regardless of age and vaccine status.

If you or your child develop any of the described symptoms within the next 21 days, keep him/her at home.

If you have questions or concerns, Team Offutt members and their families should contact the 55th Medical Group public health section at 402-294-8009.