An outbreak of pertussis among teenagers in Forsyth County, North Carolina, possibly linked to incomplete vaccinations, has prompted a warning from the Department of Public Health.
This year, the department has investigated 17 cases of pertussis, nine of which were noted between June and July. As most cases have been observed within the adolescent age group, an emphasis has been placed on vaccination before the upcoming school season begins, according to Jennifer Corso, RN, communicable disease nurse supervisor at the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.
“We have a lot of people moving into the area that are new to North Carolina, and our immunization requirements for school might vary from other regions of the country,” Corso told Infectious Diseases in Children. “For these new people, we want them to be aware of this and to check their immunization records. They have only about 30 days before school starts to become compliant.”
North Carolina state law requires that all schoolchildren in kindergarten and seventh grade be up to date on their pertussis vaccinations prior to the start of the school year. Students who have not received the necessary booster vaccinations are not permitted to attend school.
According to a press release issued by Marlon B. Hunter, BSEH, MAOM, health director at the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, the department is trying to educate the local community about the symptoms of pertussis — commonly known as “whooping cough.”
Symptoms of pertussis may include severe fits of coughing that are followed by a high-pitched sound, coughing followed by vomiting, exhaustion after fits and apnea in infants. However, symptoms may differ for each person. If these symptoms are noticed, a health care professional should be contacted immediately.
“Because of the increased activity that we have observed in children under 18 years, this is becoming a concern for our community,” Corso said in an interview. – by Katherine Bortz