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Increase in Pertussis Cases Prompts Health Officials to Encourage Awareness and Prevention

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cincinnati Health Department

Hamilton County Public Health

Northern Kentucky Health Department


The Cincinnati Health Department, Hamilton County Public Health and Northern Kentucky Health Department urge citizens and health care professionals to maintain vigilance and follow vaccination guidelines for pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. Case reports in both the City of Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio for the month of October were higher than average—a trend that health officials throughout the region are monitoring closely.

In the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 46 cases of pertussis were reported in October. An additional eight were reported in Northern Kentucky.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly-contagious respiratory disease. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and perhaps a mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks.

Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. More than half of infants younger than one year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized.

Early symptoms of pertussis can last for one to two weeks and usually include:

Because pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold, it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear. If a cough persists for two weeks or longer without any other symptoms, individuals are advised to see a doctor as those infected with pertussis are most contagious up to two weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious. Often close contacts are also given antibiotics to prevent the spread of the disease.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against pertussis. Children are routinely vaccinated with the DTaP as part of their regular schedule of immunizations, with a five dose series that starts at eight weeks of age and ends with a booster between age 4 and 6.

The protection provided by the pertussis vaccination fades over time, so Tdap boosters are recommended for several groups, including:

Both the DTaP and Tdap vaccines are available through local doctors’ offices, health clinics and the health departments.

For information, please call or visit:

    Cincinnati Health Department, 513-357-7200,
    Hamilton County Public Health, 513-946-7882,
    Northern Kentucky Health Department, 859-341-4264,


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Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

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For statewide news releases, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.