UTAH COUNTY — The Utah County Health Department is urging residents to get vaccinated or ensure their vaccinations are current in the face of an increase in whooping cough cases.
The UCHD is experiencing an increase in cases of pertussis, also called whooping cough, and they state many of the cases have been among infants and young children.
As of December 13 they have recorded 103 cases of whooping cough, which is higher than average and greater than the number of cases in 2017.
Symptoms include those similar to a cold, like a runny nose or irritating cough, but the disease can be life-threatening in small children. In previously immunized teens and adults, the disease often presents as a persistent and sometimes severe cough that lasts for weeks.
“Regardless of the cough intensity, pertussis can be spread to others, including unimmunized infants, who are at such high risk, especially those who have not yet been immunized,” stated Dr. David Flinders, Medical Director for UCHD. “Since this can be life-threatening in small children, it is very important for those experiencing symptoms to go to their healthcare provider to be diagnosed and receive treatment.”
The health department states vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis and notes a booster vaccine, called a Tdap, is available for teenagers and adults. Health experts recommend the booster because there is no way to create a lifelong immunity.
“The sooner you are seen a by healthcare provider, the sooner you can be diagnosed and treated,” Dr. Flinders stated. “The sooner that diagnosis and treatment begins, the better our chances are of limiting the spread of disease in the community, if it is pertussis, or something else.”