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La Plata County infant tests positive for pertussis

By Jane Looney

Special to The SUN

An area infant has tested positive for pertussis.

While this is just the fifth case of pertussis in La Plata County this year, other areas of Colorado are experiencing much higher rates than normal. Through the first half of 2013, there have been 763 reported cases in Colorado compared with a five-year average of 119. Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease.

“It’s really important for every person to get vaccinated against pertussis,” said Bari Wagner, nurse epidemiologist for San Juan Basin Health. “Periodic boosters are recommended to not only fully protect you, but also others you may come in contact with who perhaps have compromised immune systems or are still too young to get immunized.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people create a circle of protection around their baby by ensuring that pregnant women, parents, siblings, grandparents and caregivers are up to date with their pertussis vaccination.

“While adults may have a milder case, he or she can still spread whooping cough to someone for whom it could cause a much more serious illness and even death,” said Wagner.

San Juan Basin Health is offering adults the Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis as well as tetanus. Due to the ongoing outbreak in Colorado, the state is making federally supported Tdap vaccine available to all adults (age 19 and older), regardless of insurance status.  A donation of $21.65 helps to cover the cost, but no one will be turned away if unable to pay.  Even though the pertussis vaccines are quite effective, it is important for parents to remember that immunity does wear off over time. A Tdap booster is recommended at age 10-11. It is required for sixth grade entry.

Call 335-2013 to schedule an appointment in Archuleta County. If your child is fully insured, contact your pediatrician.

This story was posted on July 18, 2013.