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Whooping Cough Cases Rise, Parents Urged To Immunize Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012
Colleen Winter, 605-773-3737 


Whooping Cough Cases Rise; Parents Urged To Immunize kids


PIERRE, S.D. – Whooping cough cases are on the rise and a South Dakota health official is urging parents to make sure their children are immunized.


Nationally, 48 states and Washington, D.C. have reported increases in whooping cough, also known as pertussis, through September. In South Dakota, cases are up 87 percent over the five-year median, with 56 cases reported as of Oct. 3.


Most of those cases are in school-age children and result from an outbreak in a school setting.  Neighboring Minnesota reports nearly 4,000 pertussis cases, the most since 1943, while Iowa reports more than 1,100 cases this year.


“Pertussis causes uncontrollable coughing, rib fractures, pneumonia, loss of consciousness and even death,” said Colleen Winter, director of Health and Medical Services, South Dakota Department of Health. “Very young children are at highest risk, with two-thirds of kids under age one who get it needing hospitalization.”


The Health Department provides free pertussis vaccine for children, with doses recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. Children need the complete series to be fully protected. A booster dose is also recommended at 11-12 years as immunity begins to wane. The department provides that booster dose free as well.


Winter said the booster dose protects middle-school students from the disease and increases the ring of protection around vulnerable infants. Because whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads easily in the school setting, immunizing the older age group also helps reduce the likelihood of outbreaks.


Parents can contact their usual vaccine provider to request the vaccine. Some schools will also be scheduling clinics to offer the whooping cough vaccine along with the seasonal flu vaccine.




*The vaccine the state provides is Tdap, which also includes tetanus and diphtheria. The vaccine is free but some providers may charge an administration fee.