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Whooping Cough Cases on the Rise in Suffolk County

The Suffolk County Health Department says there are 205 confirmed cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in Suffolk County schools, with the most cases in Northport-East Northport School District. Eight different school districts have been infected, including Northport-East Northport, Sachem,  Lindenhurst, Half Hollow Hills, East Islip, West Islip, Middle Country, and Southold.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease. They say symptoms can feel like a cold, but with a strong, violent cough that makes it hard to breathe.  It begins with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough that progresses to a severe uncontrollable, violent cough lasting several weeks or months. It is spread from person to person through droplets. Pertussis is particularly dangerous, even fatal, to infants who have not been fully immunized.

“In order to contain the spread of infection, we ask health care providers to consider pertussis as a possible diagnosis when patients present with cold-like symptoms and a dry cough,” said Dr. Tomarken. “Early detection and appropriate antibiotic treatment is the key to minimizing symptoms and containing the spread of the infection.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), m ultiple factors have likely contributed to the increase in pertussis cases, including waning immunity from childhood pertussis vaccines, increased recognition of the disease, and better diagnostic testing and increased reporting.

“The most effective control measure is maintaining the highest possible level of immunization in the community,” said Dr. Kathy Thompson, Director of Communicable Diseases for Suffolk County.

Parents and physicians who have questions about pertussis may contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health at 631-853-3055.

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