The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is investigating reports of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Fayette County.
To date, there have been two confirmed cases, with seven cases showing symptoms with lab results pending.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages but is most serious in infants.
The early symptoms are similar to a common cold: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and coughing. After 1-2 weeks, the cough gets worse, changing from a dry, hacking cough to bursts of uncontrollable, often violent, coughing.
During a coughing episode, it might be temporarily impossible to take a breath because of the intensity and repetition of the coughs.
When finally able to breathe, the person might take a sudden gasp of air, which can cause a “whooping” sound. Vomiting and exhaustion can often follow a coughing spell.
Anyone with these symptoms should visit a physician for diagnosis and treatment. Pertussis, which is spread through coughing and sneezing, is treated with antibiotics. If given during the very early stage of the illness, antibiotics may help shorten the illness. For more information about pertussis, call (859) 231-9791.
The vaccine is routine and required for school-age kids. One dose of the Tdap vaccine is recommended in adulthood for protection. New parents are targeted as they are most likely to transmit disease to young children who can experience very serious illness or death.
The vaccine not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but it helps prevent pertussis from being spread to kids they come into contact with.
The CDC recommends adults 19 and older to get the Tdap booster shot every 10 years. Pregnant women who have never had a dose of Tdap should get one. The vaccine is $55 at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, and some insurances are accepted. Call (859) 288-2483 for more information about the vaccine.
For additional information, find the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook, or follow the health department on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD.