MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County is stressing the importance of getting vaccinated for pertussis as cases continue to rise in Montgomery County. In 2023, there have been 44 cases, including 30 cases occurring in the past 3 months, with cases ranging in age from 4 months to 70 years. By comparison there were a total of 13 in 2022.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria, according to PHDMC.
Pertussis typically begins with cold-like symptoms and sometimes a mild cough or fever before progressing to severe coughing fits which can include uncontrollable, violent coughing and whooping, which can make it difficult to breathe.
Infants and young children often catch the illness from a family member or other caregivers and are most at risk from serious complications. Babies with pertussis may not cough, but may gag and gasp instead, as well as have a symptom known as “apnea,” which is a pause in a child’s breathing pattern.
In some cases, antibiotics are recommended for contacts, including other household members and those with risk factors for severe disease which include infants, pregnant people, and people with weak immune systems. Adults or children that are having trouble breathing should seek medical attention immediately.
“More than half of infants less than one year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized and in rare cases, pertussis can be deadly,” said Dr. Becky Thomas, Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County’s Medical Director.
Immunity, whether from getting the vaccine or from having the disease, wears off over time, leaving previously immune children at risk again by adolescence. Individuals and families providing care to a new baby may need a pertussis booster shot to provide protection for infants who haven’t had a chance to get the full series of vaccinations yet, according to PHDMC.