Whooping cough cases on the rise, free vaccines offer help

Anna-Lysa Gayle, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – After a steep spike in whooping cough diagnoses in Fairfax County last year, health officials are now offering free vaccinations against the disease to adults.

From 2010 to 2011, Fairfax County saw a 55 percent increase in cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, officials say. The disease is more common among infants less than 2 months-old.

“In order to protect those kids who are too young to be vaccinated, it is very beneficial to vaccinate all of the individuals who are going to have contact with those newborns — so pregnant mothers, any sort of caregiver, daycare providers, nannies, fathers of newborns, grandparents should all be vaccinated, “says Dr. Peter Troell, a medical epidemiologist with the Fairfax County Health Department.

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory disease that is spread by those who transmit the pertussis bacteria. Symptoms include a runny nose, low-grade fever, a mild cough and a pause in breathing, also known as apnea.

“Covering your coughs and sneezes with either your upper-sleeve or a tissue, can limit the spread,” Troell says. “Also, frequent and thorough hand washing with warm soap and water.”

The Fairfax County Health Department is offering free Tetenus, Diptheria and Pertussis vaccines to those 19 and older, while supplies last.

To get the vaccine, make an appointment at any of the department’s five district offices, officials say.

WTOP’s Thomas Warren contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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