SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is advising parents, childcare workers and health care providers to verify the children they care for are properly immunized against pertussis, a respiratory disease also known as whooping cough. The DOH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) experts also advise new parents, grandparents and relatives to get fully immunized before being around an infant.
Since Jan. 1, DOH has identified 112 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis, with at least one case in 22 Florida counties. The counties include Alachua (3), Broward (2), Citrus (1), Clay (1), Collier (4), Miami-Dade (15), Duval (2), Escambia (1), Gulf (1), Hillsborough (35), Lee (13), Leon (1), Martin (1), Monroe (4), Nassau (3), Orange (3), Osceola (3), Palm Beach (7), Pasco (5), Polk (5), Seminole (1) and Volusia (1).
The occurrences in Florida are consistent with the rise in cases seen across the United States. Recently, outbreaks have occurred in Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington State.
Family members are most often the transmission source of pertussis to infants. A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough, runny nose, sneezing and a low-grade fever. After one to two weeks, the coughing becomes more severe. Rapid coughing fits can occur that often end with a whooping sound.
Pertussis is spread when infected individuals cough or sneeze while in close contact with others. Pertussis is most dangerous for infants and children, and usually a milder disease in adolescents and adults. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics.
Additional information about school immunization and school health requirements for children can be found at these DOH Web sites:
http://www.immunizeflorida.org/community/index.htm and http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Family/School/parent/parent_info.html.