ANTRIM COUNTY - Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, was confirmed recently in an Antrim County student. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan has mailed letters to parents in the affected school, recommending that students in that classroom be treated by their doctors with an antibiotic as a preventive measure. Letters also provided information about symptoms of the illness, and vaccination recommendations.
Pertussis is spread by coughing and sneezing, and is highly contagious. Symptoms start with a runny nose, mild fever and mild cough, similar to a cold, but progress to severe coughing spasms that may interfere with eating, drinking and breathing. Infants and young children often have the most severe symptoms.
"The best prevention is to ensure everyone in the family is vaccinated," said Joshua Meyerson, M.D., Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "Make sure young children receive all five recommended doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine at two, four, six and fifteen months of age, and again between four and six years of age. Starting at age 11, everyone should receive at least one Tdap booster dose, even if they have had a regular tetanus (Td) vaccine recently. Routine hand-washing is also helpful."
Dr. Meyerson warns that those who refuse vaccination are putting others at risk. "Even if you aren't concerned about the threat of pertussis for yourself, you may be unknowingly spreading the illness to others, especially infants and young children, to whom it may be fatal," he said.
He added that there are new vaccination recommendations for women who are pregnant. "All pregnant women are now being advised to get a Tdap during their third trimester, between 27 and 36 weeks, and they should get the Tdap with each pregnancy," he explained. "This provides additional protection for infants when they are born."
The Health Department offers all necessary immunizations, including Tdap and DTaP vaccines, through its clinics in Bellaire, Mancelona, Charlevoix, Gaylord, and Harbor Springs/Petoskey. Medicare, Medicaid and many forms of private health insurance are accepted. Those without health insurance coverage for immunizations qualify for reduced rates for these vaccines. For more information, or to schedule appointments for yourself and your family, call the Health Department at (800) 432-4121 today.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, visit www.nwhealth.org.