Ongoing Pertussis Outbreak (Whooping Cough) in Sullivan County   

(Liberty, NY) – On June 30, the Sullivan County Public Health Department notified the public of ten (10) confirmed Pertussis (whooping cough) cases and one probable case. As of July 15, there are 19 confirmed cases and an additional 33 suspect cases with lab results pending. All individuals and their close contacts have been or are currently being treated. The Public Health Department continues to work closely with health care providers in the county to monitor and identify any additional suspect cases to ensure timely treatment and to control the outbreak.

If you or your child has been around someone with pertussis, you may become sick with pertussis (whooping cough). 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 the local Health Department at (845) 292-5910. An Epidemiology nurse is on call and available 24/7.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Pertussis, it is very important to complete the antibiotic regimen before returning to work school or community functions, to reduce the spread of the disease to others. 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

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.

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