Live Oak — Two cases of pertussis, better known as “whooping cough”, have been reported in Suwannee County and health officials are encouraging residents to ensure they have been vaccinated against the disease.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, and the disease spreads easily from person to person. People can get pertussis by breathing in droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
Initial symptoms of pertussis are like those of a cold, including runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough can become much worse. Pertussis can infect people of all ages, yet most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year of age. Children and the elderly with pertussis often have episodes of rapid, sporadic coughing followed by a characteristic intake of breath that sounds like a “whoop.” These “whooping” coughing spells can make it hard for a child or older adult to eat, drink, or even breathe.
“Pertussis is a very serious, yet preventable disease. Babies and young children often catch the disease from family members, so we urge the community to seek vaccination right away to decrease the risk of infection,” said Pamela M. Blackmon, Administrator of the Department of Health in Suwannee County. “In addition, vaccinating children helps protect the health of the whole community, especially those people who cannot be vaccinated. This includes children who are too young, those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and individuals with poor immune systems.”
TDaP (includes pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines) for children is available at the Florida Department of Health in Suwannee County every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. -11 a.m. and 1 p.m. -4 p.m. No appointment is necessary. There is no charge for the vaccine if your child is age 18 or younger. Infants begin to receive pertussis vaccine at age 2 months.