Due to public health measures, pertussis rates in Washtenaw County drop - dramatically
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It's known by the symptom of uncontrollable, violent coughing that often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a "whooping" sound.
Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.
Breaking it down by the numbers:
In 2009, which was a record year, 81 cases of whooping cough were reported here in Washtenaw County. It was — by far — the largest number of cases since 1992, with the runner-up record of 36 cases in 2003.
In 2010, pertussis was at a record high with 232 cases reported in Washtenaw County residents. Across the country several states reported an increase in cases and/or localized outbreaks of pertussis, including a state-wide epidemic in California. Why was there such a big increase in pertussis cases?
Some likely reasons include:
- Decreasing immunity in teens and adults. Many have not yet gotten their Tdap vaccine booster, and more than half of this year's cases have been in teenagers and adults.
- Unvaccinated children. Parents who opt out of vaccinating their children create pockets of vulnerability in the community.
- Change in pertussis testing. A newer test, called a PCR, has become the dominant method of testing and most likely we are detecting more cases than we would have in the past.
Here's where it gets interesting:
1107 Tdap vaccines were adminstered by Washtenaw County Public Health Department (WCPH) in 2010. This was part of a collaborative effort between public health and local practitioners to interrupt infection transmission within the community by improving immunization coverage.
In 2010 there were 781 Tdap vaccines administed by WCPH as part of sustained effort at improving immunization coverage.
Number of pertussis cases recorded in 2011 was 26 (almost a 900 percent reduction in cases from the previous year!).
- Vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis are no longer a thing of the past because of declining immunization rates.
- Public Health continues to play a critical role in protecting the community's health
For more information on pertussis, go to: