Pertussis is on the rise in La Plata County, and San Juan Basin Health Department is cautioning residents to get their vaccines or booster shots.
Since January, 20 cases have been diagnosed in La Plata and Archuleta counties, with 10 reported since Sept. 1. Eight of those were reported in school-aged children. In 2014, 21 cases total were reported in both counties for the entire year.
Also known as whooping cough, the illness creates uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it difficult to breathe. Attempts to take in oxygen after a severe bout of coughing often result in patients making a whooping noise. Pertussis, a bacterial respiratory disease, is considered highly contagious. It is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and another person breathes in the bacteria.
The disease isn’t just some bad coughing. It most commonly affects infants and young children, and it can be fatal, especially in babies younger than 1.
“We recommend that individuals and families check their immunization status,” said Keri McCune, regional epidemiologist for San Juan Basin Health, “and if you are not up to date with your immunizations, now is the time to do it.”
Pertussis vaccines are considered effective, but a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or Tdap, booster is recommended every five years, especially for those who are around small children and babies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that parents create a “circle of protection” around their babies, by making sure that they, pregnant women, siblings, grandparents, siblings and caregivers are up to date with their pertussis vaccinations.
The health department offers the vaccine, with a suggested donation of $21.65 to help cover the cost, but no one will be turned away because of inability to pay. Fully insured children should get their vaccinations through their pediatricians.