Whooping cough cases on the rise in Ohio

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is an extremely contagious, easily preventable disease that has made its way into Ohio counties.

The Ohio Department of Health says whooping cough is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

What is whooping cough?

  • Pertussis or “whooping cough” is a serious respiratory infection that spreads easily from person to person.
  • Pertussis starts out with symptoms of a regular cold with mild fever and in 1-2 weeks progresses to severe coughing spells that last for weeks (100 day cough).
  • Coughing is usually absent in infants with the main symptom being apnea-a pause in breathing pattern.
  • It can cause coughing spells so severe a person can crack a rib or have difficulty breathing.
  • It can lead to weight loss, incontinence, rib fractures, pneumonia, seizures, hospitalization and even death.

Babies are more susceptible to the disease and often catch the ailment from a family member or caregiver, according to the ODH.

More than half of babies less than a year old who are infected by the bug must be hospitalized and about 1 in 100 babies are at risk of death from the coughing disease.

Who should be vaccinated?

  • Children under 7 years of age should receive five doses of DTaP.
  • Adolescents 11 through 18 years of age should receive one booster dose of Tdap, preferably at age 11-12 years.
  • Adults 19 years of age and older should receive one dose of Tdap in place of one booster dose of Td (tetanus-diphtheria) vaccine. This is especially important if you will have contact with or are a caregiver of infants.
  • An adolescent or adult who gets a severe cut or burn should substitute Tdap for one booster dose of Td.
  • New mothers who have never received a dose of Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery. If vaccination is given during pregnancy, it is recommended that it be given after 20 weeks of gestation.
  • It is recommended that all caregivers/close contacts of infants be vaccinated. Checkwith your medical provider.

Since 2007, Ohio has seen more than 650 cases of whooping cough every year, with a high of 1,858 cases in 2010.

The ODH says the best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. Health officials especially stress vaccination to anyone who comes in close contact with infants. There are two types of vaccines to protect against the disease – DtaP and Tdap. These two vaccines also protect against tetanus and diphtheria.


ODH Immunizations Program: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhPrograms/dis/immunization/immindex1.aspx

ODH Pertussis Pamphlet: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/ASSETS/13DC8390C92849D9B6E30500B6EB65FC/pertus10.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/pertussis

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