INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging Hoosiers to take precautions against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, amid an increase in cases across the state.
In the first half of 2017, 136 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in Indiana. During the same period in 2016, the state saw 66 cases. Pertussis often presents in a cycle, ISDH expects to continue to see an increase in cases this year.
Pertussis is a disease caused by bacteria. It may cause coughing fits that can cause breathing problems. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and sometimes death. Most of these serious problems occur in infants who are less than a year old. Young infants with pertussis can experience poor feeding, weight loss, slowed or stopped breathing—including the aforementioned symptoms. The disease is generally milder in older children and adults.
Anyone with a prolonged cough is encouraged to see a healthcare provider to determine whether testing or treatment for pertussis is appropriate. Hoosiers who are uncertain about their vaccination status can consult their healthcare provider or local health department. Online access to immunization records is possible through MyVaxIndiana.
While pertussis can be treated with antibiotics, it can be prevented with two safe and effective vaccines: DTaP for children under 7 years old and Tdap for children and adults over 10 years old. Pertussis immunity begins to decrease over time, but adding a pertussis booster dose to the routine vaccination schedule for children 11 to 12 years old can provide further protection.
Women are urged to get one dose of Tdap during each pregnancy to protect young infants before they can be vaccinated. In addition, fathers, grandparents and anyone caring for young children should make sure they are fully immunized against pertussis to prevent spreading this potentially life-threatening illness.