Nebraska reports increase in pertussis infections

Nebraska is the latest state to show a surge in pertussis, or whooping cough, cases, while national totals continue to rise.

In Lancaster County, located in the eastern half of Nebraska, 24 confirmed cases have been reported. That is more than were reported for the entirety of 2009. Additionally, all students in the state that are entering into seventh grade are now required to get a booster immunization for pertussis, reports.

Nebraska is only one of several states that are seeing a rise in the prevalence of pertussis this year. It joins Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas in reporting major increases. Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and New York are all on track to exceed their last year’s totals, according to CIDRAP News.

Health officials in California have speculated that the rise could be at least partially attributable to gaps in tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine coverage. Seven infants in the state, all under the age of three, have died this year from the illness.

Newborns and infants are most vulnerable to pertussis. Infants and those who expect to be near infants should be immunized with the DTaP vaccine. Infants are often exposed to the disease by people who do not even realize they are carrying it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Any adults and adolescents that were immunized as children should receive the vaccine again, as its effects can wane over time.