Testing, treatment and vaccination urged to stop spread of “Whooping Cough”

County health Department reports growing incidence of pertussis

The Allegheny County Health Department has announced that a growing number of pertussis cases are being reported in the County.          

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease that can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that often makes it hard to breathe.  After many fits of coughing, someone with pertussis may need to take deep breaths that result in the “whooping” sound characteristic of the disease.

There have been 46 confirmed or probable pertussis cases since the beginning of the year, well above the average of seven reported cases in that time period over the past several years.  The average age is 11 years old, but the cases also include some infants and senior citizens.          

To prevent further transmission of the disease, the Health Department is sending physicians a letter recommending laboratory tests on all individuals suspected of having pertussis and appropriate antibiotic treatment for suspected cases as well as any close contacts of confirmed cases such as family members.          

Health officials also strongly recommend vaccinations for infants, young children, adolescents and adults as the best way to protect against pertussis.  It’s extremely important for those who are around infants to be up to date with their pertussis vaccination, because the disease can be fatal in babies less than one year old.         

 Vaccinations are available from your health care provider and the Allegheny County Health Department. For information about the Health Department’s vaccination clinic in Oakland, please call 412-687-ACHD or visit www.achd.net.