The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 13, 2012

Whooping cough not active in area

Booster shot recommended for both teens and adults

OTTUMWA — Pertussis, often called whooping cough, isn’t causing long lines at county public health departments.

In fact, no one is in line at the public health departments in Wapello, Monroe or Keokuk counties.

Lynelle Diers, the clinical director for Wapello County Public Health, said Thursday that nothing big is going on in Wapello County.

“I’ve had no confirmed cases in the past two months,” Diers said. “The last positive pertussis case we investigated was in January this year, and that was an indeterminate case, not a positive one.”

Sometimes the reason for an indeterminate case is the patient has had the problem for longer than 21 days and is no longer contagious. Another possibility is a patient who’s on the “Z-Pack 5,” a course of antibiotics.

“The Z-pack is what most physicians give [patients],” she said. “We’ve had a few pertussis cases in this county. Polk County has had a lot of cases, but not Wapello County.”

Diers said people do need a reminder about making sure their children are up to date on the pertussis booster. Teens and adults should also get the booster shot, which is $45 for people age 19 and older.

Getting the shot is highly recommended, according to Diers. Medical professionals are finding older adults with a slight cough have been holding newborn babies and passing on the illness. Unfortunately, the newborn babies haven’t had vaccinations.

“Anyone who’s a grandma should make sure they’ve had a booster shot for pertussis,” she said. “The shot is preventive, so don’t wait until you have the problem.”

Diers also noted the coughs can vary from a slight cough to the bronchitis-type coughing of severe pertussis. If a newborn gets pertussis, it can be life-threatening because the baby can’t breathe.

The 2004-05 outbreak of pertussis was a bad outbreak. Diers said pertussis is very contagious.

“If someone has coughed more than 21 days, they’re no longer contagious,” she said.

But if the cough doesn’t go away, check with your health care provider, Diers added.

If you’re in a grocery store and hear someone coughing, get 4 feet away from them. And at sporting events, students need to be cautious with kids from other schools, especially if they’re coughing.

Jenn Grinstead is the assistant office manager for Monroe County Public Health Department. After checking with the nursing staff, she said there weren’t any known diagnoses of pertussis.

Keokuk County Public Health Department has no pertussis cases to report, according to Director Marilyn Waechter.

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