Cases of pertussis on rise in county

Whooping cough more prevalent in cold weather

By Melody Vallieu -

TROY — Cases of pertussis (whooping cough) are on the rise in Miami County according to Miami County Public Health.

Nate Bednar, public information officer, said Miami County already has seen 16 reported cases of pertussis in 2016, eight of them within the past month.

In 2015, there were only five total cases. Bednar said there were 12 cases reported in 2014, 26 cases in 2013, and seven cases in 2012.

Pertussis is a respiratory illness spread by direct contact through coughing and sneezing. Anyone who has been in a confined space, such as a classroom, with an infectious person for two to three hours is at risk. Exposed adults and children who have been fully immunized also may become ill. The contagious period is seven days after exposure up to five days after the onset of treatment or if not treated, three to four weeks after cough onset.

“Pertussis cases are cyclic in nature, with peaks in disease every three to five years. Since the early 1980s, there has been an overall trend of an increase in reported pertussis cases,” Bednar said. “This is due to many factors, including increased awareness, improved diagnostic tests, better reporting, more circulation of the bacteria, and waning immunity.”

Bednar said much like colds and flu, pertussis seems to increase during cooler months due to its contagious nature and people being confined indoors.

The early symptoms of pertussis are:

• Runny nose

• Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease)

• Mild, occasional cough

• Apnea — a pause in breathing (in babies)

Later stage symptoms can appear after one to two weeks and include:

• Rapid fits of coughing followed by a high-pitched “whoop”

• Vomiting during or after a coughing fit

• Exhaustion after coughing fit

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics to control the symptoms and prevent infected people from the spread of the disease. If you or your child has been diagnosed with pertussis, complete the antibiotic regimen before returning to work, school, or community functions, to reduce the spread of the disease. Children with pertussis should be excluded from school (including daycare) and should remain in their homes until they have completed five full days of antibiotic. All household members/close contacts are also recommended for treatment to keep the pertussis from spreading.

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated, Bednar said. Pertussis vaccination is recommended for all babies, children, teens, and pregnant women. DTaP is given to children younger than 7 years old, while Tdap is given to older children and adults.

Pertussis is most dangerous for babies, Bednar said. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get the disease need care in the hospital, and one out of 100 babies who get treatment in the hospital die.

Pregnant women also should obtain a Tdap booster with every pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby. Other care providers are encouraged to get a Tdap booster.

“Pertussis vaccines are effective, but not perfect,” Bednar said. “Although no vaccine is 100 perfect effective, the pertussis vaccination can greatly reduce the severity of symptoms.”

If you or your child is not up to date on pertussis vaccinations, call your physician or contact Miami County Public Health at (937) 573-3518.

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Whooping cough more prevalent in cold weather

By Melody Vallieu

Reach Melody Vallieu at

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