Panhandle Health District: Press Release on Immunizations

This information is being forwarded in cooperation with the Panhandle Health District and the North Idaho Public Information Network.

Panhandle Health District
                                  8500 N. Atlas Road         Hayden, Idaho  83835<


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   Date:   September 2, 2010
Contact:                                                                Released by: Jeanne Bock, Director
Cynthia Taggart
Public Information Officer
(208) 415-5108
(208) 818-7288 (cell)

Immunization Can Slow Whooping Cough Surge

Hayden – The recent hospitalization of two northern Idaho infants with whooping cough is a clear call to people of all ages to get their pertussis immunization.
       So far this year, 57 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the five northern counties. Last year, only six cases of whooping cough were reported in the same area for the entire year. The number of cases so far this year (through August) is eight times higher than average.
       Both infants recently diagnosed are in intensive care. The pertussis bacteria, which is pervasive, is particularly dangerous for children younger than 6 months old.
       Pertussis is a highly contagious disease recognized by severe coughing spells that can cause vomiting and lack of breath. Untreated, pertussis can develop into pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis.
It’s been surging in this area since last November, indicating community-wide transmission. Children and adults in group settings, such as school, are at the highest risk for catching and spreading whooping cough, and vaccination increases the likelihood of avoiding or minimizing the effects of the disease.
       “Immunization is our best tool,” said Randi Lustig, epidemiology program manager for the Panhandle Health District. “The pertussis vaccination isn’t just for babies. Adolescents and adults need to be revaccinated, even if they were vaccinated as children.”
The effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine fades with time. National health officials recommend a booster for children at age 11 or 12. Adults who didn’t get the vaccine as a pre-teen should get one dose.
        Babies and children don’t benefit from the vaccine’s maximum protection until age 5. It’s important for anyone around them to have a current pertussis vaccination.
Whooping cough typically starts with a runny nose, but a cough quickly takes over. People spread pertussis by coughing or sneezing while they’re in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.
People with pertussis are contagious before the cough starts and stay contagious for up to three weeks. Doctor-prescribed antibiotics can kill the infection and prevent it from spreading.
Whooping cough is frequently misdiagnosed as bronchitis or allergies. North Idaho’s medical community has been advised to consider pertussis a possibility when patients have a cough illness.
PHD has immunizations with the pertussis vaccine for babies, adolescents and adults. For an appointment in your county, call:

 *   Kootenai County – 415-5270
 *   Bonner County – 263-5159
 *   Boundary County – 267-5558
 *   Benewah County – 245-4556
 *   Shoshone County – 786-7474

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