County, state experiencing increase in cases of pertussis (whooping cough)

By Jon Tatting—

The Chisago County Board on June 6 learned the number of confirmed cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, is on the rise in the county and statewide.

While the number of cases do cycle between higher and lower levels every three to five years, Chisago County is experiencing 28 confirmed cases of pertussis this year compared to just three in 2011, said Pam Bates, PHN, coordinator of the Disease Prevention & Control Program for Chisago County Public Health.

Otherwise, the county experienced 29 cases in 2005 and 17 in 2006, she added.

Bates challenged people, from county commissioners to the general public, to ask their healthcare providers if they have had the Tdap booster. “We all need these boosters to prevent spreading (pertussis) to infants,” she urged.

She also discussed the importance of addressing the illness and its treatment through regular communication with schools and parents.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently researching why the state is experiencing a higher number of pertussis cases, as other states such as California are experiencing an increase as well.

After the meeting, Bates provided the following information to help educate the public:

Pertussis begins with a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and possibly a low grade fever. After one or two weeks, the cough worsens and turns into sudden, uncontrollable bursts.

The coughing attacks can end in vomiting or a high-pitched whooping noise. Coughing attacks often happen at night, and the cough may last up to three months.

People with the disease should not go to school, work or any activities until they have finished five days of antibiotic treatment, unless the person already has been coughing for three or more weeks. Although the cough can last longer than three weeks, a person is no longer contagious after the third week.

In recent years, more cases of pertussis have been reported in adults, adolescents and school-age children. Since it may be milder in adults and older children, they can pass on the disease without knowing it to infants and preschoolers who are at risk for the illness.

Most children have been vaccinated for pertussis, however, protection decreases over time. Studies have shown that the immunity from the vaccine decreases after three to five years from the last vaccination, which is usually given before kindergarten.

This is why most adolescents and adults are at risk for pertussis.

A pertussis booster vaccine, called Tdap, for adolescents and adults is now available and is given with the tetanus-diphtheria booster. Parents of children age 10 and older and adults — especially those with infants younger than age 12 months in their home — should talk to their healthcare provider about Tdap.

If you or your child has a cough and has had contact with someone with pertussis or has been coughing for seven days or longer, discuss the illness with your healthcare provider.

Questions can be directed to Pam Bates, PHN, Chisago County Public Health, at 651-213-5225.

More Information on pertussis can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health website at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/pertussis/index.html.

In other health and human services news, the board:

• Approved, by resolution, a joint powers agreement authorizing the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension access to criminal justice data during background checks for licensing providers.

• Passed a memorandum of agreement with Stratis Health to perform medical service reviews to ensure the medical care furnished to Medicare beneficiaries is medically necessary, reasonable and meets recognized standards of care.

• Approved an amendment to the Pine Technical College and Training Agreement, extending the Supported Work Services grant period three months, effective July 1 through Sept. 30, 2012.

• Approved the Home and Community-Based Waiver Services contracts for adult family foster care providers Denise Davis of Forest Lake and Barb Dreckman of Chisago City, effective June 6 through Dec. 31, 2014.

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