SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — The number of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases in Summit County have increased, and officials said as of Wednesday there are 34 confirmed cases–primarily among children of elementary school age.
FOX 13 News reported last week that 19 children had pertussis and that all 19 had been vaccinated; Carolyn Rose, Nursing Director for Summit County Health Department, said by Monday that number had increased to 27 and by Wednesday the total was 34.
Rose said the outbreak is mostly among young children of elementary school age. She said the greater likelihood for children to spread germs and the highly contagious nature of pertussis is a factor in the spread. She said they appreciate parents who are being proactive in immunizing children and keeping them home from school when they are sick.
Immunization is the best way to prevent contracting whooping cough, but the vaccine is not 100 percent effective.
Rose told FOX 13 on March 27: “A lot of people want to know why their child is getting it because they’re vaccinated, and it has to do a lot with the vaccine; it’s not a 100 percent, however it is about 90 to 95 percent effective.”
According to a letter from Rose that was sent to parents in Summit County, those who are vaccinated but still get whooping cough are better off than those who did not vaccinate because they typically have fewer symptoms and aren’t as contagious. She also stated in the letter that 5 or more years after the last dose of the vaccine, the protection starts to decrease.
“They would be a lot worse, and they would have more than the typical whoop, as in the whooping cough, and more severe illness–and infants who can’t tolerate it as well, and people who are immuno-compromised would be a lot sicker,” Rose said on March 27.
Summit County School District officials have sent a letter from Rose to parents with information about the outbreak, and it provides guidelines for families who have child who gets whooping cough. If the child is fully immunized they are recommended to take antibiotics but can return to school immediately if they aren’t displaying symptoms. Children who get whooping cough who have an exemption or who aren’t fully immunized are required to be out of school/daycare settings for either 21 days or until they complete a full course of antibiotics. Click here for the full letter from the Summit County Health Department.
For more information about Pertussis, visit the Utah Department of Health.