LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock Health Department is beginning to see an increase in the number of Pertussis cases reported this fall. This increase is prompting the department to encourage medical providers and the community to take steps to protect against this disease.
Pertussis is a bacterial infection that often starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough. After a week or two, severe coughing can begin and last for several weeks. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting or a "whooping" sound, the reason the disease is also called "whooping cough". The disease spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes; people with pertussis are most contagious while they have cold-like symptoms and during the first two weeks after coughing starts.
Pertussis can cause serious illness in young children because it can interrupt their breathing. While the illness tends to be milder in older children and adults, there is a concern that an adult or older child who doesn't seem very sick could spread pertussis to an infant.
Parents should check their children's shot records to be sure they are completely vaccinated against pertussis and keep infants, especially those less than 6 months old, away from people with a cough. The health department encourages anyone with an unexplained, prolonged cough or who has had close contact with a person with pertussis to contact their healthcare provider. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the contagious period. Children who have pertussis should not go back to school or daycare until they've completed five days of antibiotic treatment.
Adults should talk to their doctor about receiving a booster dose of pertussis vaccine also called Tdap. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pregnant women get a dose of pertussis vaccine during every pregnancy to help protect the baby. Fathers, siblings, extended family members, medical providers and others who will be around newborns should be vaccinated, too.