Whooping cough cases up significantly in Genesee County

In the last month, the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) identified eight confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, in Genesee County.

This is a significant increase compared to 2008 when only seven cases were reported during the entire year. Four of the eight cases were among infants too young to be fully immunized against pertussis and two cases were among school-aged children.

The GCHD is informing the community of this recent outbreak and advising all concerned individuals to check their immunization status, as well as their children TMs.

Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease. The GCHD is reminding health care providers that pertussis is increasing in the community and to consider it in their differential diagnoses. Those diagnosed with pertussis should be treated with an appropriate antibiotic. Persons exposed to a case of pertussis should make sure that they are properly vaccinated against pertussis. In some situations, those in very close contact to a case of pertussis may need treatment to prevent the disease.

People of any age can be infected by pertussis, but young children, especially infants, are at the greatest risk for severe pertussis disease and serious complications. Symptoms begin like a cold and include fever, runny nose and coughing episodes that gradually become more severe. Coughing episodes persist and become frequent even after cold symptoms subside and can last 1 month or longer.

Vaccination against pertussis is the best way to control and prevent the disease. Pertussis vaccine is administered in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccine (DTaP) in a five-dose primary series and protects children against whooping cough. The booster dose of the vaccine that protects against pertussis (Tdap) is recommended for adolescents and adults aged 11-64 years.

Pertussis often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed in adolescents and adults because they typically experience a milder course of illness. It is critical that adolescents and adults ensure that they are properly vaccinated against pertussis.

Anyone who has symptoms that he or she thinks might be pertussis should consult a health care provider. For more information see the GCHD website at