Pertussis Cases are Up
So far, this has been another good year for Pertussis: whopping cough cases in Washtenaw County and across the state are up. Roughly 20 cases are reported in a typical year in Washtenaw County; last year there were 81, and this year 37 have already been confirmed. In Michigan, the number of cases has risen to over 300; and tens of thousands of cases a year are reported, now, in the US.
Bordatella pertussis is a nasty bacterium. Symptoms start out like common cold symptoms, with runny nose and congestion; but after a week or two, infected adults and children cough so hard that they run out of air—ending with a characteristic gasp, or "whoop." It's most dangerous in babies: more than half of all infants with whooping cough end up in the hospital; and about 1 in 10 children with pertussis end up with pneumonia. 2% have convulsions. The cough lasts for months, and it's highly contagious.
The best defense against whooping cough is the vaccine. The CDC recommends, and we administer, 5 doses of DTaP—the diptheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine—one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months and 4-6 years. We follow with a dose of Tdap—the tetanus, diptheria and pertussis booster—at age 11 or 12. Adults immunized as children may need a pertussis booster. That includes child care workers, and new parents.