As many as 63 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in children have been reported recently by Utah’s Summit County Health Department.
Pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory disease, has a 21-day incubation period.
“We will be seeing cases for a while longer,” Summit County Health Department nursing director Carolyn Rose said in a telephone interview with Vaccine News Daily. “We have 62 to 63 cases, but that changes daily."
To combat the spread of pertussis in its elementary schools, Park City School District officials and the health department have mandated that children who have not been vaccinated for pertussis stay home from school for 21 days or complete a course of antibiotics.
Doctors are testing for pertussis in children who have symptoms similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and cough. There have been very few cases where children who have contracted the disease exhibit violent coughing that makes it hard to breath.
“When you look at the number of kids that have been swabbed, 10 percent are positive and 90 percent are negative,” Rose said. “The other thing is that the majority of the kids are vaccinated, and there haven’t been any babies or children that have needed hospitalization.”
Protection from the pertussis vaccine typically wanes after four or five years.
"A lot of the cases are in that three- to five-year range, right before kids get boosters before they go into kindergarten,” Rose said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated.