Utah doctors have reported nearly three times more pertussis (whooping cough) cases in 2005 than this time last year. Currently Emery County, one of the 16 counties reporting pertussis in Utah, has families dealing with the effects of this bacterial disease.
It is spread by having close contact with infected persons who may also be coughing or sneezing. Pertussis can cause serious illness, especially in infants. Symptoms include violent coughing spasms, loss of breath, can lead to pneumonia, and may induce vomiting.
David Cunningham, Health Officer for Southeastern Utah District Health Department (SEUDHD) states, "This is serious and with the number of confirmed cases it is imperative that we work as efficiently as possible to reduce the spread of this vaccine-preventable disease."
Because of the seriousness some children, whose parent(s) signed a Personal Exemption Form when they enrolled them in school, are now being told their children need to stay home.
The Personal Exemption Form states "I understand that if an outbreak of any vaccine-preventable disease occurs, the child for whom this exemption is claimed is to be excluded from the school or early childhood program for the duration of the outbreak/or threat of exposure. My child will be allowed back only when a health department representative is satisfied that there is no longer a risk of contracting or transmitting a vaccine-preventable disease".
"The trend we are seeing in Utah is very similar to the national trend," says Robert Rolfs, M.D., State Epidemiologist, UDOH. "Pertussis is on the rise among adolescents and older adults. These groups have little or no immunity against pertussis. They often don't recognize they have pertussis if they get it and can spread the disease to infants."
Two new vaccines should give prevention efforts a boost because they are the first pertussis vaccines to immunize people over 7 years of age. The immunity provided by vaccination against pertussis during childhood declines over time. That means most adolescents and adults are susceptible to pertussis. Teens and adults who get pertussis can give the disease to infants who are too young to have been fully vaccinated.
In May 2005, Boostrix, a tetanus, diptheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, was licensed for use in individuals 10-18 years of age. In June 2005, Adacel, a second Tdap vaccine, was licensed for individuals 11-64 years of age.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued recommendations in June 2005 for the new Tdap vaccines, targeting adolescents as one of the primary groups for vaccination. The SEUDHD and the UDOH endorses the following recommendations:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Adolescents 11 and 12 years of age should be given Tdap vaccine in place of the tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tdap vaccine should be given to adolescents 13 through 18 years of age who missed the Td dose at 11-12 years.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Adolescents 11-18 years of age who have already been vaccinated with Td are encouraged to receive a dose of Tdap to further protect against pertussis
SEUDHD encourages parents to vaccinate adolescents with the Tdap vaccine and reminds parents to vaccinate infants on time. Infants typically get the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTaP) vaccine at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months of age.
For more information on pertussis or pertussis vaccines, contact your local public health department, or the Immunization Hotline at 1-800-275-0659. For additional information, contact the National Immunization Program at: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vaccine/tdap/default.htm