Friday, March 4, 2011

Pertussis Update

Since January 1, 2011, there have been 28 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported to Maine CDC. Cases have been reported in Cumberland, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Waldo counties. Cases range in age from 1 month to 57 years.

Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the “100-day cough.” Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children, and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants. More than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized.

The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for pre-teens, teens and adults — protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.

The December 20, 2010, Health Alert on pertussis is available at:

For more information about pertussis, visit:

Tdap Vaccination Strategies

Representatives from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, US CDC, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America co-authored a report titled Tdap Vaccination Strategies for Adolescents and Adults, Including Health Care Personnel, which is available at

The report is intended to help health care organizations of all types (hospitals, long term care facilities, ambulatory settings, home health organizations, etc.) improve Tdap vaccination rates.

The report notes that some important changes to the previously published ACIP recommendations were approved at the October 2010 ACIP meeting:

  1. For adults ages 65 years and older, a single dose of Tdap vaccine may be given in place of a tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) vaccine in persons who have not received Tdap.
  2. Adults ages 65 years and older who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant age less than 12 months should receive a single dose of Tdap to protect against pertussis and reduce the likelihood of transmission of pertussis to infants age less than 12 months.
  3. Tdap can be administered regardless of the interval since the last tetanus- or diphtheria-containing vaccine.
  4. Children ages 7 through 10 years who are not fully immunized against pertussis and for whom no contraindication to pertussis vaccines exists should receive a single dose of Tdap to provide protection against pertussis. If additional doses of tetanus and diphtheria toxoid–containing vaccines are needed, then children ages 7 through 10 years should be vaccinated according to catch-up guidance.

PCR Diagnosing of Pertussis – Best Practices

US CDC has issued a Health Alert on the best practices for health care professionals related to the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for diagnosing pertussis in light of the continuing resurgence of pertussis and the likelihood that health care professionals will see more patients with suspected pertussis.

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