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Whooping Cough Will Reach 10-Year High in Connecticut

Health officials are urging residents to get vaccine booster shots.

State health officials are calling on residents to get booster shots for whooping cough, or pertussis, as the number of reported cases of the disease approach a 10-year high in Connecticut, according to the New Haven Independent.

In a story today on its website, the Independent quotes a state health official who says the national outbreak of the disease is reaching into Connecticut and that the state has already seen 111 cases of whooping cough so far this year. That puts Connecticut on track to break a 10-year record on the number of cases of the disease.

“It’s really important that people who are expecting a child make sure that they’ve had the Tdap booster,” Kathy Kudish, an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health, told the Independent. “We really want to protect the most vulnerable, and that’s infants up to 12 months.”

Whooping cough, an illness believed to be mostly eradicated by modern medicine, is making a comeback as the vaccine millions got as children to ward off the illness loses its effectiveness.

's Public Health Nurse Coordinator , RN, MSN said she is administering Tdap vaccines free of charge to residents of Branford, North Branford and East Haven. Additionally, residents of Guilford and Madison are eligible to receive the Tdap shot from ESDHD for free as part of the mass dispensing classification– normally those towns are not served by the department. Foster said the Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – the medical term for whooping cough. 

Foster, who will be visiting  daycare in Branford today to administer the shot to their staff, said that 50 percent of all babies who get whooping cough will be hospitalized. The illness causes babies to cough, vomit, stop eating and have trouble breathing among other symptoms. 

ESDHD is offering the vaccine to caregivers of children birth to 12 months; call 203-481-4233 to make an appointment. Suggested recipients of the vaccine include a baby's parents, grandparents, caregiver, or anyone who has regular contact. 

So far this year there have been 22,000 cases of pertussis reported in the U.S., with 13 deaths, mostly among infants, attributed to the disease. There were 18,719 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control in all of last year. The U.S. hasn't seen that many cases of whooping cough since 1959.

Foster said whooping cough outbreaks have been occurring in California where 10 babies died and most recently has moved to Washington state. "In my perspective," she said, "whatever happens over there eventually comes over here."

In Connecticut, the number of reported cases of whooping cough has so far more than doubled the number of all cases reported here in 2011, according to the CDC.

The state is encouraging other adults and parents of children 11 and older to talk with their doctors to find out if they have received the pertussis booster.  In October, pharmacists will be authorized to offer the booster to people 18 and older, the Independent reports.

The CDC has a page on its website devoted to pertussis FAQs and other information.

Jenn McCulloch August 30, 2012 at 05:28 PM
"Rita Foster provided some additional information this morning, noting that in the three towns ESDHD covers, (East Haven, Branford and North Branford) there were 9 reported cases of pertussis in 2010-2011 (July1-June 30) and for 2011-2012, there have been 6 cases reported so far. "Not all people who have pertussis will see their MD and find out they have pertussis," said Foster."

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