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Health Department: Pierce County Saw A Sharp Increase In Whooping Cough In July

Officials recommend immunizations for all and vigilance with ongoing coughs.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has seen a sharp rise in pertussis (whooping cough) cases in recent weeks. In July, 18 pertussis cases were reported in Pierce County. The Tdap vaccine is recommended for all residents – adults and children—as an effective way of to increase community immunity to the disease.

“Pertussis is an easily preventable and treatable illness, and we are concerned by the elevated rates reported last month in Pierce County,” said Dr. Anthony Chen, Director of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “This is a good reminder to the community about the importance of keeping up to date on vaccines, and being vigilant to the prevalence of communicable diseases.”

As of July 31, there were 68 reported cases of pertussis in Pierce County. Medical providers and patients should be aware that a severe or prolonged cough illness could be pertussis. This is especially true for patients who are high risk or who are in contact with high risk individuals. High risk patients are defined as infants less than 12 months of age, women more than seven months pregnant and healthcare workers who may have face-to-face contact with patients.

Immunizations that protect against pertussis are readily available for children and adults. High levels of immunization in the community, or “community immunity,” help to prevent outbreak and makes our county a healthier place to live.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department joins the Centers for Disease Control in urging Pierce County residents to make sure they are up to date on immunizations. With school quickly approaching, it is a good time to make sure children and the adults they live with are protected against immunization preventable diseases. For more information about immunizations, visit http://www.tpchd.org/resources/immunizations/ or see your health care provider.

More information on pertussis is available from the Washington State Department of Health at http://www.doh.wa.gov/EHSPHL/factsheet/pertussis.htm.

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