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1 Reported cases of pertussis (whooping cough) are on the rise in Colorado and El Paso County. As of October 23, more than 1,000 cases of pertussis have been reported across the state. El Paso County cases have begun to increase after the start of school, with 56 cases for the year this far. In El Paso County, there were 53 cases reported in 2007; 9 cases in 2008; 20 cases in 2009; 21 cases in 2010; 37 cases in Q: What can be done to prevent the spread of pertussis? A: The most effective measure is to maintain the highest level of immunization in our children in the community. Parents should ensure that their children are up-to-date on their shots. Persons with pertussis should avoid contact with others until they have taken five full days of the appropriate antibiotic, and complete the full course of treatment prescribed. Persons living with someone who has pertussis or persons who have been in very close, continuous contact with them should obtain appropriate preventive antibiotics (without waiting for symptoms to develop). I am reaching out to you with some preventative information that you might be interested in sharing with your school community. Kind Regards, See attachments. 1. Frequently asked Questions 2. Article (600 word count) Susan Wheelan, MBA, Communication Director El Paso County Public Health Office: Follow us on Website:

2 Office of Communication 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd., Suite 2044 Colorado Springs, CO (719) phone (719) fax Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Frequently Asked Questions Q: What is pertussis? A: Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. The bacteria are found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Q: Who gets pertussis? A: Pertussis can occur at any age. It is most dangerous to infants and very young children, especially those who have not had three doses of pertussis vaccine. It can also cause severe coughing in adults and older children that lasts for many weeks to months. Q: What are the symptoms of pertussis? A: Symptoms usually appear between seven to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria, but sometimes it takes as long as 21 days. The disease starts with cold-type symptoms: low-grade fever, runny nose and cough. In one to two weeks a second stage develops with repeated attacks of severe coughing followed, in young children, by a crowing or high pitched whoop (hence the name whooping cough). Adults and older children rarely experience the whoop. During bouts of coughing, the lips and nails may turn blue for lack of air. Vomiting may occur after severe coughing spells, and coughing is often worse at night. During the early second stage of pertussis, seizures or even death can occur, particularly in infants. Immunized school children, teens and adults usually have milder symptoms than young children, and may often appear fairly healthy in between episodes of coughing. The second stage can last one to two months or longer, with coughing spells gradually decreasing over that time. Q: How is pertussis spread? A: Pertussis is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks in close proximity to another person. The greatest risk of spread is during the early stage when pertussis appears to be a cold, although it is possible to spread the bacteria for 21 days after the onset of coughing. Those treated with appropriate antibiotics are considered contagious until they have completed five days of treatment. Q: How is pertussis diagnosed? A: A health care provider may suspect pertussis because of the symptoms, but the only way to be sure is to take a sample of mucus from the back of the nose (nasal wash) and send it to a lab for a specific test. Q: What is the treatment for pertussis? A: A health care provider must prescribe an effective antibiotic such as Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, or erythromycin. These antibiotics will reduce the contagious period, but they will not reduce the cough symptoms unless taken in the very early stage of the infection. Q: Is there a vaccine for pertussis? Yes. The vaccine for pertussis is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus. Infants and children s vaccine DTP (the older vaccine) or DTaP (the newer vaccine) is given at 2, 4,

3 and 6 months of age, with boosters at months and at 4 6 years of age. Two newer pertussis vaccines (Tdap) are available for use in adolescents and adults as a booster to the primary childhood series. Q: What can be done to prevent the spread of pertussis? A: The most effective measure is to maintain the highest level of immunization in our children in the community. Parents should ensure that their children are up-to-date on their shots. Persons with pertussis should avoid contact with others until they have taken five full days of the appropriate antibiotic, and complete the full course of treatment prescribed. Persons living with someone who has pertussis or persons who have been in very close, continuous contact with them should obtain appropriate preventive antibiotics (without waiting for symptoms to develop). More information on pertussis: or call (719) during business hours.

4 PROTECT THE CHILDREN IN YOUR CARE FROM WHOOPING COUGH Parents and caregivers often are aware of the importance of whooping cough vaccines for children and it s just as important to remind adults that they need the vaccine, too. Increasing the Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccination among adults helps prevent the spread of disease and protects the most vulnerable, particularly young infants. This effort is called cocooning, or vaccinating everyone who comes into close contact with an infant. Infants are most likely to suffer the most severe consequences of whooping cough, including prolonged illness, hospitalization, and death. Reported cases of pertussis (whooping cough) are on the rise in Colorado and El Paso County recently. As of late October this year, more than 1,000 cases of pertussis had been reported across the state. El Paso County cases have begun to increase after the start of school, with 56 cases for the year this far. El Paso County Public Health is urging people, especially those who care for infants and toddlers, to get vaccinated in order to help prevent an outbreak in El Paso County. The Pikes Peak Flu and Immunization Coalition recognizes this community-wide problem, and has partnered with state and El Paso County Public Health to conduct free Tdap and flu shot clinics for child care workers. The clinics will be held November 10 and December 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fire Department Headquarters, 375 Printers Parkway in Colorado Springs. To make an appointment at El Paso County Public Health s Immunization clinic and to inquire about costs for vaccine, call A substantial number of pertussis cases occur in adults (29 percent of all cases between 2009 and 2011 in El Paso County) Adolescents and adults with pertussis may have delayed diagnosis or not seek medical care at all, but are infectious and can spread disease within their homes, workplaces, or schools. Pertussis is described as a bacterial infection within the respiratory tract that is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. After exposure to pertussis, symptoms typically begin in 7-10 days. The illness begins with sneezing, a runny nose and mild cough, but becomes more severe during the first week or two. It is characterized by coughing fits which may be followed by a high-pitched whooping, vomiting or a pause in breathing, and may last up to six weeks before gradually improving. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the vaccine for pertussis is given in combination with vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus. The recommendation for the vaccination is that a total of five doses be given in childhood at two, four, six, 15 to 18 months, and between four to six years. Single doses are recommended for children 11 to 12 years of age or for adolescents and adults who have never received the vaccination. Take additional steps to prevent the spread of disease: Encourage frequent handwashing. Cover your mouth and nose with the inner elbow and not hands when sneezing and coughing. People who are diagnosed with pertussis, should stay home from work, school or child care until five full days of antibiotic treatment is completed.

5 People who are diagnosed with pertussis are considered contagious until they have completed five days of appropriate antibiotic treatments. For more information visit

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