Thirteen children diagnosed with whooping cough or pertussis in just 10 days prompted Dayton Children’s Hospital officials Thursday to ask the public to be on the alert for the highly contagious disease.
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What are the symptoms?
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, usually starts with flu-like symptoms — sneezing, dry cough, slight fever, loss of appetite or poor feeding. This is then followed by two to six weeks of coughing spells. Vomiting or spitting up mucus may occur after the coughing spells. Pertussis typically lasts six to 10 weeks.
Can pertussis be spread to others?
Pertussis is highly contagious and can be spread to other children and adults through close contact with an infected person. Germs often are spread by sneezing and coughing. If your child has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for pertussis take them to their primary care physician to be tested.
Who is at serious risk?
Children, especially infants, are at serious risk. Parents should take their children to a doctor immediately for treatment.
How is pertussis treated?
Pertussis is treated with antibiotics. This treatment will also help to keep from spreading the infection to others. Anyone in close contact may also need to take an antibiotic. If the symptoms get worse, children may be admitted to the hospital.
To prevent pertussis:
• Wash hands thoroughly.
• Keep children away from anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
• Vaccinate children, teens and yourself. Combination vaccines are used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The DTap vaccination is given to children younger than 7 years of age and Tdap is given to older children and adults.
• Children get a dose of DTap at each of the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15-18 months and at 4 to 6 years.
• The preferred age for pre-teen Tdap vaccination is 11 to 12 years old. Adolescents not previously vaccinated should receive a single dose of the vaccine.
• Adults who have not previously received Tdap and are in close contact with an infant under 12 months of age also should receive the vaccine.
Source: Dayton Children’s Hospital
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