Whooping cough on the rise in Placer County

Nineteen cases so far this year, compared to six in the same period last year
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Placer County is experiencing an increase in whooping cough cases this year. So far in Placer County, there have been 19 probable or confirmed cases, compared to six in the same period last year, according to Placer County Health and Human Services — which means the number of cases has more than tripled. Cases of whooping cough, also called pertussis, last peaked in 2005. Pediatrician Ravinder Khaira, with Sutter Independent Physicians in Roseville, said getting vaccinated against this respiratory disease is the most important step a person can take to protect against the spread of the virus. He attributes the current spike in cases to a combination of waning immunity and the disease manifesting itself atypically, which means whooping cough wasn’t always properly identified in past years. Newborn infants face the greatest risk for severe illness and death from this respiratory disease. County health officials recommend that everyone be up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccinations. “Because infants usually contract the disease from contact with an infected adult or adolescent, it is especially important that parents assure that everyone who will be around their infant has been vaccinated against pertussis before having contact with their baby,” said Pat Orme, assistant director for public health, in a press release issued Thursday. Parents, older siblings and grandparents are the most common source of infection for infants, but may have mild symptoms and not realize they could spread the disease. All Kaiser Permanente facilities, including Kaiser Roseville Medical Center, are encouraging providers to give the Tdap vaccine to all members in the 11-to-64 age group, said Dr. Stephen Parodi, chief of infectious disease for Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Parodi said the state of California encourages the vaccination of new mothers and fathers, along with individuals who have close contact with infants. Adolescents age 11 to 18 should be vaccinated if they have not already received a dose of tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, he said. “People aged 65 or greater who have interest in Tdap, including caregivers of newborns, should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their individual health-care provider,” Parodi said. “The decision of whether to give a vaccine in these circumstances should be made on a case-by-case basis.” Whooping cough causes coughing fits and difficulty breathing and spreads easily when someone with the disease coughs or sneezes. Early signs resemble the common cold, such as runny nose, sneezing, low or no fever and mild cough. Symptoms can quickly worsen and last for months. Coughing attacks may lead to vomiting, a red or blue face, a “whoop” sound, problems breathing, extreme tiredness and sweating spells. Infants younger than 6 months often experience different symptoms and don’t have a typical cough. In the early stages, infants may gasp or gag, stop breathing for short periods, get very tired, and have seizures. Symptoms can get worse very fast. Call your doctor if you have been around someone with whooping cough or a bad cough, or if you show any symptoms. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Additionally, all adults with symptoms should try to prevent spreading the disease by washing their hands often, coughing into elbows or sleeves, and avoiding contact with children and newborns. To be vaccinated, individuals should contact their regular health care provider or drop in at one of the Placer County immunization clinics and bring immunization records. Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- Symptoms: Adults: Runny nose Sneezing Low or no fever Mild cough Coughing attacks can lead to vomiting, a red or blue face, a “whoop” sound, problems breathing, extreme tiredness and sweating spells. Infants younger than 6 months: Gasping or gagging Stop breathing for short periods Gets very tired Seizures ---------- Drop-In Clinics: Roseville Placer County Community Clinic 1130 Conroy Lane, Suite 402 (916) 784-6444 Wednesdays 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-3:30 p.m. (closed 12 – 1 p.m.) Auburn Placer County Community Clinic 11584 B Avenue (Annex) (530) 889-7215 (800) 488-4308 ext. 7215 Fridays 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00-3:30 p.m. (closed 12 – 1 p.m.) The pertussis vaccine is $9 each for children and $16 for adults. For more information, visit