The Joplin City and Jasper County health departments have issued statements noting increases in pertussis (whooping cough) cases in the Carthage area.
Currently there are 590 reported cases in Missouri, with 19 cases (seven and 12) in Joplin and Jasper County, respectively, as of Sept. 4.
Pertussis, a respiratory illness commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria that can cause severe disease in very young children.
People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 7–10 days after being exposed. The illness begins with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms and progresses to cough. Fever is absent or minimal.
It is important to remember that pertussis can occur at any age and therefore should also be considered in older children and adults who have a persistent cough lasting more than seven days, which cannot be attributed to another specific illness.
If untreated, it can be severe. Thus, prompt recognition and control of cases is of paramount importance.
In some cases, pertussis may occur in fully vaccinated persons.
However vaccination remains the best defense against pertussis. It is highly recommended that vaccinations are up-to-date and that all household members, grandparents, and care givers to children under the age of one receive a TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccination.
This will ensure effective prevention of pertussis.
We ask that residents to be on alert for signs and symptoms of pertussis.
If you are experiencing symptoms compatible with pertussis, stay home to avoid spreading the diseases to others unless you are going to seek medical care.
The Joplin City and the Jasper County health departments’ communicable diseases staff have been working hard over the course of the past few months to investigate and help prevent and control the illness in the community.
For additional information about pertussis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html