News Release: Florida Department of Health
Tallahassee--The Florida Department of Health in Leon County (DOH-Leon) urges parents to protect their babies from whooping cough (i.e., pertussis) by creating a circle of protection around their babies. There have been six confirmed cases linked to a single daycare center in Leon County since September.
Whooping cough is a contagious respiratory disease that causes rapid, spasmodic coughing sometimes followed by a characteristic intake of breath that sounds like a “whoop.”
It is easily spread from person to person when someone with the bacterium coughs or sneezes nearby and another person breathes in the airborne droplets. People can also catch it by touching discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person.
Whooping cough begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. The first symptoms are like those of a cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within 2 weeks, the cough usually becomes much worse. The violent coughing spells are worse at night and can last for as long as 1 to 2 months. The spells can make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe.
The circle of protection should include everyone around a baby, including the baby: parents, brothers and sisters, childcare providers and grandparents. All of these caregivers need whooping cough vaccine to protect the baby.
Babies need all 5 doses of whooping cough vaccine on time. Your baby needs whooping cough vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years. Vaccines are available from your doctor’s office or DOH-Leon.
The vaccine is not 100% effective and immunity wanes over time. Vaccinated children may not have the typical signs and symptoms such as the “whooping” sound when they cough, but the vaccine protects them from severe disease. Booster doses are recommended for adults and pregnant women. It is now recommended that a pregnant woman receive a booster dose during the third trimester of every pregnancy to help protect her newborn child.
For more information, please call your doctor or DOH-Leon’s Nursing Program at 606-8010, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage at. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/recs-summary.htm.