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Pertussis (or whooping cough) is a highly contagious, vaccine preventable disease marked by severe coughing spells. It is named after the "whoop" sound children and adults make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell.
Pertussis is caused by a bacteria (bordetella pertussis) that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person, and is spread through close contact when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs.
Whooping cough usually starts with cold or flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough. These symptoms can last up to two weeks and are followed by increasingly severe coughing spells. Fever, if present, is usually mild.
Whooping cough is caused by a bacteria that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person and is spread through close contact with discharges from the respiratory tract of infected persons, i.e. when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. Older children and adults commonly spread the disease to infants for whom it can be particularly dangerous and even fatal.
There are new Tdap booster vaccines (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) that protect older children and adults from pertussis!
Infected family members can spread pertussis throughout the household. If a family member has been diagnosed with pertussis, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider who may have been exposed and who might benefit from antibiotic therapy to prevent further spread.
The best prevention is immunization. Until recently, the only vaccine for pertussis, DTaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) was for infants and children aged 6 and under However, due to waning immunity, two new booster vaccines became available in the summer of 2005:
The pertussis booster is administered as a combination vaccine called Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). The new Tdap vaccines are recommended to replace the tetanus diphtheria (Td) vaccine. Current recommendations are a one-time dose. Everyone should consider getting vaccinated against pertussis.
Healthy habits, such as washing hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth and staying home when ill help to prevent the spread of pertussis and other respiratory illnesses.
For more information on pertussis in Jefferson County and efforts to reduce incidence and spread, please contact JCPH Communicable Disease Control at 303-232-6301.
Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pertussis page for more information.
See our Immunizations page for information on vaccines available.
To make an appointment for immunizations at our Arvada or Lakewood locations, please call 303-232-6301.
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