Although no cases have been reported in Durham or Middlefield, state health officials are calling on residents to get booster shots for whooping cough, or pertussis, as the number of reported cases of the disease approach a 10-year high in Connecticut, according to the New Haven Independent.
In a story today on its website, the Independent quotes a state health official who says the national outbreak of the disease is reaching into Connecticut and that the state has already seen 111 cases of whooping cough so far this year. That puts Connecticut on track to break a 10-year record on the number of cases of the disease.
“It’s really important that people who are expecting a child make sure that they’ve had the Tdap booster,” Kathy Kudish, an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health, told the Independent. “We really want to protect the most vulnerable, and that’s infants up to 12 months.”
The Tdap booster is a vaccine that is mixed in with a child's booster shot, which will help the child combat the whooping cough virus, said Susan Dubb, public health nurse for the Chatham Health District. While the vaccines aren't available at the health district itself, Dubb said residents from East Hampton, Portland and other area towns should contact their primary health physicians who should have the Tdap readily available.
Dubb said anyone who works with children or has children in the home should consider getting the vaccine.
"You may have had your childhood immunizations, but there may have been a weakening of those immunities over time," Dubb said. "And if you’re re-administered to the pertussis you may pass it along to others."
Whooping cough, an illness believed to be mostly eradicated by modern medicine, is making a comeback as the vaccine millions got as children to ward off the illness loses its effectiveness.
So far this year there have been 22,000 cases of pertussis reported in the U.S., with 13 deaths, mostly among infants, attributed to the disease. There were 18,719 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control in all of last year. The U.S. hasn't seen that many cases of whooping cough since 1959.
In Connecticut, the number of reported cases of whooping cough has so far more than doubled the number of all cases reported here in 2011, according to the CDC.
The state is encouraging other adults and parents of children 11 and older to talk with their doctors to find out if they have received the pertussis booster. In October, pharmacists will be authorized to offer the booster to people 18 and older, the Independent reports.
The CDC has a page on its website devoted to pertussis FAQs and other information.