Pertussis Health Advisory

By November 22, 2019

Please be aware that we’ve had a confirmed case of pertussis reported to us by Tarrant County Public Health. One of our young church members, age 14 attended church functions November 3 through November 10, 2019, including Sunday School. If you or any family members were in church on these dates, you/family members may have been exposed. Please read this information on pertussis and follow the recommendations to help stop its spread.

Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” is a highly contagious disease involving the respiratory tract, and it is caused by a bacterium found in the mouth, nose, and throat of an infected person. It can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age, and is easily spread by droplets in the air that form when a person talks, sneezes, or coughs.

Pertussis begins like a cold — with runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, and a cough that slowly gets worse after one to two weeks, when it begins to occur in strong coughing fits called “paroxysmal coughing.” This type of coughing may last for six or more weeks.

There is generally no fever when paroxysmal coughing begins, and between coughing spells the person often appears to be well. The cough is often worse at night and may be unrelieved by cough medicines. In young children, coughing fits are often followed by a whooping sound as they try to catch their breath.

After this type of coughing a person may have difficulty catching his breath, may vomit, or become blue in the face or around the lips. The coughing spells may be so intense that it is hard for babies to eat, drink, or breathe. Some babies may stop breathing (called apnea) and die. Adults, teens, and vaccinated children may have milder symptoms that mimic bronchitis or asthma.

Regarding Pertussis, Tarrant County Public Health recommends the following:

  • Persons with any of the above described symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider before returning to any group settings (work, school, daycare, church gatherings, etc.).
  • Persons diagnosed or suspected of having pertussis are to be excluded from group settings until after completion of 5 days of antibiotic
  • Review your/your child’s immunization records and catch up any that are due or past due.
  • Adolescents and adults should receive Tdap vaccine to booster their immunity and prevent spread of the disease to others.
  • Close contacts of a person with pertussis should receive antibiotics to prevent them from becoming ill regardless of immunization status.
  • Pregnant women should make their healthcare providers aware of their exposure risk.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Tarrant County Health at 817-321-4700 or online at https://www.tarrantcounty.com/en/public-health.html

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