Calif-) Pertussis (Whooping Cough) cases are on the rise in Napa County, with
17 cases reported so far in 2014 and nine cases reported in the last two weeks.
In 2013, there were 13 pertussis cases reported for the entire year. All but
three reported cases this year have been in children of middle school or high
With pertussis spreading so
quickly, Napa County Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith again urges vaccination of
women in their third trimester of pregnancy to protect vulnerable infants.
Although pertussis usually only results in a severe cough for older children
and adults, it is a potentially deadly infection for infants under six months
of age, who are much more likely to require hospitalization and may die if they
pregnant women during their third trimester provides protection of the infant
both through transfer of antibodies from the mother before birth and by
protecting the mother from becoming infected and passing the infection on to the
young infant. Vaccination of others, such as family members and childcare
providers, who may also come in contact with the infant is also important.
Pertussis is cyclical, with
peaks every three to five years. California last experienced a pertussis epidemic
in 2010, when more than 9,100 cases were reported statewide and 10 infants
died. All of Napa’s neighboring counties are also currently experiencing a high
incidence of pertussis.
Napa County Health & Human
Services Agency – Public Health Division (NCHHSA – PHD) consistently encourages
education, good hygiene, immunizations, diagnosis and appropriate treatment and
staying home when ill. Any person, regardless of vaccination status or prior
disease history of pertussis, who has an acute cough illness should go to their
provider for testing. Sometimes there are no other symptoms (cold-like symptoms
typically precede cough; fever is usually absent).
Any pregnant women in her third
trimester who has an acute cough illness lasting more than five days without other
explanation should be tested for pertussis. Infants less than 6 months of age
infected with pertussis typically have a different clinical presentation than
older children and adults. They may have no apparent cough and parents may
describe episodes in which the infant’s face turns red or purple.
The most important strategy to
prevent infection in vulnerable infants is Tdap vaccination of pregnant women.
All pregnant women should receive Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, preferably in
the third trimester, regardless of their vaccination history. To maximize the
maternal antibody response and passive antibody transfer to the infant, optimal
timing for Tdap administration is between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. Any family
members or close contacts to the family with an infant should be vaccinated.
The Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP) in February 2012 recommended Tdap for all adults
aged 65 years and older. This recommendation supersedes previous Tdap
recommendations regarding adults aged 65 years and older.
Contact your health care
provider with any questions about pertussis or vaccination.