In response to McHenry County’s recent increase in pertussis cases, Centegra Health System reminds adults and children about the necessity of vaccinations to avoid serious illnesses or death. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a contagious bacterial infection that is spread through coughing and sneezing. It can be fatal, especially in babies less than a year of age.”Pertussis may seem like the common cold at first, but with a week or two the cough begins to sound more violent,” said Dr. Laura Bianconi, a pediatrician with Centegra Physician Care. “It causes uncontrollable coughing and when a person takes deep breaths it often makes a whooping sound. The best way to avoid getting it is to be immunized.”
Bianconi said adolescents and adults should also receive a pertussis booster shot, especially if they are around babies, people who are immune suppressed or the elderly. Boosters are typically given to children, and after age 11 Bianconi recommends people receive the vaccine every 10 years. ”It is extremely important to vaccinate against this illness to stop it from spreading to people who can become seriously ill,” Bianconi said. “Talk to your doctor about whether you should be vaccinated or receive a booster shot.”
Pertussis is treated with antibiotics, and those closest to the infected person are often treated to prevent its spread, as well. People who have been immunized can still get pertussis, however its symptoms are less likely to be severe. Those who have pertussis should stay home from work and school until they have been evaluated by a physician. To avoid spreading the illness it is important to wash hands regularly and to cover the mouth when coughing.
To find a physician who will discuss your risks for the illness and ways to prevent it, call 877-CENTEGRA.