KELLER (CBS 11 News) – A Keller church is warning its congregation that it may be at risk of contracting Pertussis, or whooping cough, as it is widely called.
Health officials say this is a particularly bad season for the disease.
The latest case is 5th grader, who may have exposed the disease over the past two Sundays – on April 13th and 20th – to attendees of the 9:30 a.m. services at Fellowship of the Parks Church in Keller.
The child was also at the church’s Kid’s Inc. class during at least one of those weeks.
In 2013, Tarrant County recorded 700 cases of whooping cough, a record breaking number.
“We do see an increase in case rates at about 8, 9 and 10 years of age and believe that’s due to the waning immunity of the disease,” said Dr. Russell Jones, Chief Epidemiologist for Tarrant County Public Health.
Doctors say four years after the vaccine is injected, it begins to lose its effectiveness. After six years, it is usually completely gone from the body.
The most vulnerable to the disease are infants.
“Babies- when they get whooping cough, they have tiny little airways. They have a lot of inflammation in the airways,” said Dr. Don Murphey, with Cook Children’s Medical Center. “They can end up with pneumonia.”
Pertussis, or “whooping cough”, is a highly contagious disease involving the respiratory tract. It is caused by a bacterium that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person.
Doctors urge parents to be on the lookout for cold-like symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, and cough that slowly gets worse.
After one to two weeks the cough gets worse.
Pertussis can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age. It is easily spread by droplets in the air that form when a person talks, sneezes, or coughs. Tarrant County Public Health recommends the following:
· Persons with any of the above described symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider before returning to any group settings (work, school, daycare, church gatherings, etc.).
· Persons diagnosed or suspected of having pertussis are to be excluded from group settings until after completion of 5 days of antibiotic therapy.
· Review your/your child’s immunization records and catch up any that are due or past due.
· Adolescents and adults should receive Tdap vaccine to booster their immunity and prevent spread of the disease to others.
· Close contacts of a person with pertussis should receive antibiotics to prevent them from becoming ill regardless of immunization status.
· Pregnant women should make their healthcare providers aware of their exposure risk.
They encourage everyone to get vaccinated or a booster shot as they try to avoid another record-breaking year.
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