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FCHD Takes Steps Against Whooping Cough

After Henry and Lucas counties reported cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, the Fulton County Health Department is taking steps to prevent the illness from spreading in the county, said Cindy Rose, FCHD director of nursing, last week.

A highly contagious infection of the respiratory system, whooping cough is known for coughing spells which generally affect infants, or children and teens whose vaccines are wearing off.

The illness originally earned the name “whooping cough” becuase of the sound.

As for pertussis in Fulton County, Rose said, “We are certainly doing surveillance.”

Starting this year, seventh grade students are required to have a Tdap vaccination, which protects against tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis.

By seventh grade, “the protection that they’ve had from vaccines when they were younger is waning,” said Rose.

Last spring, the FCHD provided immunization clinics in the schools. Parents of students who were unable to participate can contact FCHD and attend one of the immunization clinics on Friday mornings.

Rose said that caregivers of young children, such as parents or baby-sitters, should also make sure their immunizations are up to date.

Babies under two months haven’t received immunizations, and are therefore more vulnerable to pertussis, she said.

The coughing can become so severe, children can lapse into respiratory failure.

Pertussis is also dangerous to those with severely compromised immune systems, Rose said.–Alicia Buckenmeyer

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