POMEROY — There are a few confirmed or suspected cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Meigs County, according to a report from the Meigs County Health Department. The Gallia County Health Department confirms that the same is true in neighboring Gallia County.
Health Commissioner Larry Marshall said a couple of families recently brought their concerns about their children’s cough and the probability of whooping cough to the Meigs County Health Department. As a precaution against spreading pertussis, the department immediately began distributing information through Meigs schools on what symptoms parents need to watch for and what action to take if symptoms appear.
To check the prevalence of the bacterial disease in the area, a contact was made with the Gallia County Health Department which confirmed that this year to date, from mid-April to the end of July, there were seven suspected cases of pertussis — one probable, and six confirmed — in Gallia County.
Andrew Brumfield, public health emergency preparedness coordinator for Meigs County, said these few cases brought to the local health department’s attention are the first reported in Meigs County since 2010.
To control the possible spread of pertussis, the local health department is providing information to parents and guardians about pertussis and letting them know about the vaccines available to prevent serious illness. While Brumfield says there is no need for alarm, he adds that parents should know the symptoms of pertussis and the precautions they need to take.
“Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a bacterial disease that can spread from person to person,” said Brumfield. “It spreads through the air during talking, sneezing or coughing. During the first one to two weeks, persons with whooping cough may only experience a runny nose and non-productive cough, similar to a cold. Young children may have more serious coughing fits, often followed by a whooping sound as they try to catch their breath.”
“After coughing, a person may have difficulty catching their breath, vomit, or become blue in the face from lack of air. Between fits, the person often feels well. Coughing spells may continue for several weeks or even months. Adults and children seven years of age and older who get whooping cough may have only a very mild case with only a prolonged cough. However, pertussis can be a serious illness, especially for young infants,” Brumfield added.
Brumfield advised that protection from vaccination wears off over time, so anyone with an unexplained acute cough or who has had close contact to a person with whooping cough should contact their health care provider. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the time the person is contagious. Antibiotics should be given to all household and other close contacts to prevent spread of the disease.
He said parents with infants — especially those less than six months of age — should keep them away from persons with a cough illness because infants are more likely to experience severe illness if they develop whooping cough.
For additional information on whooping cough, residents may contact the Meigs County Health Department at 992-6626 or the Gallia County Health Department at (740) 446-0705.