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Most eyes in the public health departments across the state have been looking out for potential cases of swine flu. But another contagious illness has popped up in Southwest Missouri. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.
Jasper County Health Department officials say there are four confirmed cases of pertussis or “whooping cough” in Jasper County.
In addition to the four confirmed cases, health officials are investigating four more possible cases.
The name “whooping cough” comes from the “whoop” sound that’s made when the person coughs.
Nan Westhoff is a communicable disease nurse for the Jasper County Health Department.
She says the cases that have been reported range from infants to senior citizens.
“It’s a bacterial respiratory infection. It is spread from person to person when somebody who is sick with pertussis coughs up the respiratory droplets that have the bacteria in it and then if you are in very close proximity to them, then you run the risk of breathing in that bacteria and becoming ill,” Westhoff said.
Westhoff says the cough is most common in infants, but anyone can get it.
She added that there is a vaccine, but some children and adults don’t get immunized, so the illness spreads quickly.“Most people have been vaccinated for pertussis. It is in with the diphtheria, tetanus, however that vaccination is only about 85 to 90 percent affective and immunity does wane as we age. And so, it is possible for even people who are immunized to become ill,” Westhoff said.
Westhoff encourages everyone age 11 and older to get immunized, especially people who are around infants on a regular basis.
For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.