Update on Pertussis Outbreak (Whooping Cough) in Sullivan County   

(Liberty 4:00pm) - Last week, the Sullivan County Public Health Department notified the public of an increase in the number of Pertussis (whooping cough) cases, confirming six (6) cases. As of today, there are ten (10) confirmed cases and one probable case. Confirmed cases and their close contacts are being treated. The Public Health Department is working closely with health care providers in the county to identify any additional suspect cases to ensure timely treatment and to control the outbreak. Sullivan County Public Health Services continues to work with area hospitals, urgent care centers, physicians, and the community to identify and notify residents that have possibly been exposed.

In 2015, preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that there were 592 pertussis cases in New York State, excluding New York City, which had an additional 383 cases. If you or your child has been around someone with pertussis, you may become sick with pertussis (whooping cough) as well. This is especially true when you or your child has not received all the pertussis vaccine shots. Sometimes even if your shots are up to date, you may still be able to get pertussis.

PERTUSSIS is also known as whooping cough because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing making it hard to breathe. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to ten (10) weeks or more.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and cough, which becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (“coughing fits”) followed by a whooping noise. However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop. There is generally only a slight fever. People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough.

If you or your child comes down with any of the above symptoms including a cough, talk to your Health Care Provider without delay. If your Health Care Provider needs more information, they can call their local Health Department. Pertussis is a reportable disease per the New York State Sanitary Code (10NYCRR 2.10, 2.24); reporting of suspected or confirmed communicable disease is mandated by this regulation.

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, to control the symptoms and prevent infected people from the spread of the disease. If you or your child has been diagnosed with Pertussis, complete the antibiotic regimen before returning to work school or community functions, to reduce the spread of the disease. People who have or may have pertussis should stay away from young children and infants; all persons with pre-existing health conditions that may be exacerbated by a pertussis infection (for example, but not limited to immunocompromised persons and patients with moderate to severe medically treated asthma); Contacts who themselves have close contact with either infants under 12 months, pregnant women or individuals with pre-existing health conditions at risk of severe illness or complications, until they are properly treated. Treatment of people who are close contacts of pertussis cases is also an important part of prevention.

Some simple basics to keep pertussis from spreading:

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Do not share cups or silverware
Stay away from others until evaluated by a physician

The New York State Health Department recommends the following steps against pertussis infection:

Follow appropriate vaccination guidelines and consult with a health care provider to ensure immunizations are up-to-date;
Get tested and seek treatment at the first signs of pertussis symptoms, especially if you have young children at home or come in contact with children in other situations (e.g., work, recreational activities);
If possible, avoid close contact with others if you or your child is sick. Stay home , and follow good cough hygiene techniques, including hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough;
Keep infants under the age of one away from anyone who has a cough or other symptoms of pertussis, if possible; and
Be prepared to cooperate with the local health department to help them track the disease and contact friends, schoolmates, and others who may benefit from preventive medicine.

To learn more, visit the following websites:

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Pertussis/

New York State Department of Health: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/pertussis/fact_sheet.htm

Immunizations can be obtained through your health care provider or at Sullivan County Public Health Services, 50 Community Lane, Liberty - by appointment (845) 292-5910, or on the first Wednesday evening of each month. The next regularly scheduled immunization clinic will be held on July 6 from 5-7 pm.

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