For Immediate Release
June 12, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Pertussis Cases on the Rise This Year

56 Confirmed Cases Reported To Date

TOPEKA, Kan. (June 11, 2012) - Kansas this year has joined several states in identifying an increase of pertussis cases, also known as whooping cough. As of today, 56 confirmed cases have been reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). In 2011, just 52 confirmed cases were reported for the entire year.

During 2011 and 2012, KDHE and local health departments have investigated eight outbreaks, including the ongoing outbreak in Johnson County.

Vaccination is an effective way to prevent the spread of pertussis. Pertussis vaccines are recommended for all children and adults. The pertussis vaccine is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, called DTaP, and is recommended for children age 2 months through 6 years old. A pertussis vaccine for adolescents and adults, called Tdap, is recommended as a one-time booster.

KDHE encourages everyone to check with their health care provider on their vaccination status and to get vaccinated if they are not currently vaccinated against pertussis.

It is especially important for anyone who has close contact with babies younger than 12 months to get a dose of Tdap to help protect the baby from whooping cough. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, health care providers and childcare providers. If someone does experience pertussis after immunization, his or her case is usually milder.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but is most serious for infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated or who are not fully protected. It causes cold-like symptoms followed by a long, severe cough that can last for weeks. Adolescents and adults often have a milder disease but it can still spread it.

Individuals with symptoms should contact their healthcare provider about antibiotic treatment that can shorten the time when they are contagious. Those with pertussis should be isolated from school, work or other activities until completing at least the first five days of the recommended antibiotic therapy.