Public Health Advisory: Pertussis and Influenza on the Rise   

(Liberty, NY 12:45pm) - Sullivan County Public Health Services is issuing a Public Health Advisory to notify the public that seven (7) cases of pertussis have been confirmed among residents in Sullivan County from December 2016 through the end of this month. Last summer and fall, the county health department investigated 32 confirmed pertussis cases through the end of October. This is a significant increase over previous years as can be seen from the table below.

YearNumber of
confirmed Pertussis
cases -Sullivan County
Jan – Oct 201632
Dec 2016 – Jan 30 20177

Our Epidemiology nursing staff continues to work closely with health care providers in the county to monitor and identify any additional suspect cases to ensure timely treatment and to control outbreaks as quickly as possible.

If you or your child has been around someone with pertussis, you may become sick with pertussis (whooping cough). This is especially true when you or your child has not received all the pertussis vaccine shots. Sometimes even if your shots are up to date, you may still be able to get pertussis.

PERTUSSIS is also known as whooping cough because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing making it hard to breathe. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to ten (10) weeks or more.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and cough, which becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (“coughing fits”) followed by a whooping noise. However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop. There is generally only a slight fever. People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Pertussis, it is very important to complete the antibiotic regimen before returning to work school or community functions, to reduce the spread of the disease to others. People who have or may have pertussis should stay away from young children and infants and others who may have weakened immune systems or respiratory conditions such as COPD or asthma.

In 2015, there were 1,052 cases of pertussis in New York State, the majority of them (58.5%) in Upstate NY.1
In 2012, 48,277 cases of pertussis were reported in the United States, but many more go undiagnosed and unreported. This is the largest number of cases reported in the United States since 1955 when 62,786 cases were reported.2

We would also like to remind the public that the flu is currently widespread throughout New York State.

Influenza activity is increasing at this time throughout the U.S. and is expected to continue during the coming weeks. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. It is not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses and prevent complications that may result in hospitalization. 3

Here are some tips to keep pertussis as well as the flu from spreading:

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Do not share cups or silverware
Stay away from others until evaluated by a physician

Stay away from work or school until you are no longer contagious. This helps to protect others in your family and community.

Pertussis and Influenza vaccinations can be obtained through your health care provider or at Sullivan County Public Health Services, 50 Community Lane, Liberty - by appointment or during the first Wednesday evening of each month from 4-6 pm.

If you or your child comes down with any of the above symptoms including a cough, talk to your Health Care Provider without delay. If your Health Care Provider needs more information, they can call the local Health Department at (845) 292-5910. An EPI nurse is on call and available 24/7.

(Sources: 1 2015 Final Pertussis Surveillance Report, January 2017, CDC; 2 ; 3  )

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