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Pertussis -- also call Whooping Cough -- making a comeback

PROVO, Utah (June 4, 2012) -- UPDATE Utah County continues to investigate new cases of pertussis almost every week. To date, there have been 96 reported cases in throughout the county. That is more than was tracked in 2009 and 2010 combined.

Official continue to strongly encourage individuals to be vaccinated. For vaccine details, please see www.utahcountyhealth.org/immunizations or call 801-851-7025.

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PROVO, Utah (December 16, 2011) -- Pertussis -- also known as Whooping Cough -- is a highly contagious respiratory disease seen in children and adults. It is vaccine-preventable -- but it is also making a comeback in Utah County.

"We have seen the highest rate of pertussis in the county in five years," said Dr. Joseph Miner, Utah County Health Department executive director. Currently, there have been more than 155 confirmed cases of the disease. That is up from 38 cases in 2010. "Our current rate is well over the national average," said Miner. "We haven't seen numbers like this since 2005/2006, when the new vaccine was introduced."

"Historically, we tend to see diseases such as pertussis spike every five to seven years," said Miner. "There are several guesses as to why this happens, but complacency is definitely a factor." Miner explains that people don't appreciate the seriousness of the disease and aren't as vigilant about immunizations, especially in adults. Health care providers also stop testing as much until there is an outbreak.

"Higher levels of vaccine exemptions in schools also contribute to spikes," said Miner. "Parents have to remember that besides putting their own children at risk, they are a threat to everyone around them for the potentially deadly disease. If an outbreak occurs in their school their children can be asked to stay home for two weeks or even longer."

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis affects people of all ages who are not current on their immunizations, but the most serious complications are seen commonly in infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year of age.

Children are first vaccinated against pertussis at two months of age, and receive three additional boosters before age two and one when entering school. They receive another booster in the seventh grade. "With time our immunity wanes," said Miner. "That is why teens and adults need to receive a booster at least every ten years. This is especially important for parents, grandparents, and other contacts of newborns. While the adults don't tend to get as sick, they can expose these young babies who can be especially vulnerable to severe complications."

Pertussis is caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis. It can be diagnosed by a doctor and treatment generally consists of a course of antibiotics and supportive care. Treatment may make an infection less severe if it is started early, before severe coughing begin. Treatment can also help prevent the disease in close contacts (people who have spent a lot of time around the infected person) and is necessary for stopping the spread of pertussis.

The Utah County Health Department, as well as most local health care providers, can offer a three-in-one combination vaccine (Tdap) that protects against not only pertussis, but also diphtheria and tetanus. "If you don't remember the last time you received a Tdap booster, it is probably time for another one," said Miner.

For information on UCHD vaccine clinics, please see www.UtahCountyHealth.org/immunizations or call 801-851-7024. For information of pertussis, please see www.cdc.gov/pertussis.

The Utah County Health Department is committed to promoting the health of our community, prevent avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community, and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. For information on UCHD programs or services, please visit www.UtahCountyHealth. org or call 801-851-7000. You can also now follow the UCHD on at www.FaceBook.com/uch ealth, www.twitter.com/uchd, or www.Pinterest.com/uchd< /a>.