HEALTH NOTICE: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
POSTED: 6:55 p.m. EDT, November 23, 2010
Contact: Fairfax County Health Department: 703-246-2433
Recently, there have been confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in our community. Pertussis is a bacterial disease that can be treated with antibiotics. The illness begins with cold symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, mild fever and cough. The cough becomes much worse over one to two weeks and includes bursts of uncontrollable cough which may be followed by a high-pitch whoop or vomiting. This disease can be especially serious for infants and young children. Older children, adolescents, and adults usually develop a milder form of pertussis. The Fairfax County Health Department recommends the following to help prevent the spread of pertussis in our community:
Check your child’s immunization records. If any children in your household under seven years of age have not received at least three DTaP immunizations, please contact your physician or the Health Department about getting a DTaP shot. This shot will help protect them if they are exposed to pertussis. For older children a booster vaccine known as Tdap is now available. This is routinely given at 11-12 years of age. The Virginia Department of Health requires the Tdap vaccine for all students entering grade six who have not received a tetanus shot within the past 5 year. Please contact your physician if you have questions about your child’s vaccination status.
Monitor your child for signs of illness. Pertussis cases continue to occur occasionally in our community. Even if your child has been vaccinated against pertussis, they may still develop disease because protection from the vaccine may wane over time.
Do not allow any child experiencing pertussis symptoms to participate in activities outside of the home until you have consulted with a physician or the Health Department. We encourage laboratory testing for pertussis to confirm the diagnosis.
Keep any child diagnosed with pertussis isolated at home during the first five days of antibiotic therapy (i.e. he or she should not attend school, school functions, sporting or extracurricular activities, or leave the home except to seek medical care).
Encourage children to follow standard disease control recommendations including using tissues to cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing, and washing hands regularly.
Additional information is available on the Virginia Department of Health website.
If you have questions, please contact the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2433.