The Okaloosa County Health Department has announced a pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak involving two infants and eight children, adolescents and adults. This brings the county’s total number of confirmed whooping cough cases to 13 this year. Three isolated cases were reported about two months ago.
An infected person coughing or sneezing can spread whooping cough, Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman said. Public health officials urge all residents to ensure they and their children have been immunized against the disease. All patients with confirmed whooping cough have been treated and are recovering.
Whooping cough’s symptoms — similar to those of a mild upper respiratory infection — include sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. The coughing spells often make it hard for a child or older adult to eat, drink or even breathe.
The most important way to prevent whooping cough is for children to complete their primary diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTaP) immunization series by age 2; and to receive an additional dose of DTaP prior to kindergarten entry and a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) booster prior to entering seventh grade.
All adults should receive a Tdap booster dose instead of the tetanus booster (Td), which is typically taken every 10 years. All pregnant women should receive a Tdap for every pregnancy prior to delivery or in the immediate postpartum period. Any adolescent or adult caring for infants should receive a Tdap regardless of when they received their last tetanus booster.