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Cases of whooping cough reported in Chatham County

By Monique Peloquin
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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Chatham County, NC - During the week of November 14, 2005, one lab confirmed case of Pertussis was reported in an infant. Six other cases were also reported as potential cases of Pertussis due to symptoms and relationship with the infant. Four of the reported cases are household members to the infant and the other two reported cases are caregivers who live outside the home. The infant with lab confirmation of Pertussis became sick prior to receiving its first round of childhood immunizations. Close contacts to all the reported and confirmed cases are receiving medication for treatment or prevention.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is a vaccine preventable disease. In June of this year there were 2 reported cases of Pertussis in Chatham County. In 2004, there were also two reported cases; there were no reported cases in 2003. There were 101 reported cases statewide in 2004 and 144 in 2003.

All children living in North Carolina are required to get 5 doses of the DTaP vaccine (to prevent Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), one dose at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years (prior to school entry). It may be given at the same time as other vaccines. This vaccine and many others are provided for children at no cost through the Health Department and through many of the area physician offices.

Research on Pertussis shows that immunity begins to wane by the late teens and early adulthood, leaving many adults at risk for getting the disease. However, Pertussis generally only produces mild symptoms in adults, older children, and adolescents and often goes unnoticed or is attributed to the “common cold.” The DTaP vaccine is not used on children older than 7 years of age.

Keeping our children vaccinated against Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is very important in preventing the spread of the disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that Pertussis can cause coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death. Pertussis is spread from person to person by cough droplets. The Health Department strongly urges everyone to cover their coughs and sneezes to help prevent the spread of this disease and other illnesses such as the flu or a cold.


Due to a difference in understanding the definition of a confirmed case between the local health department and the state, we would like to clarify that according to the state there is only one probable case of Pertussis. That of the infant mentioned in the original news release. The other six potential cases are not cases but close contacts.

The public can contact the health department if they have any questions: Pittsboro office at 919-542-8220 or Siler City office at 919-742-5641[/i]

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