WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- The Forsyth County Department of Public Health (FCDPH), in Winston-Salem, is encouraging parents to get children properly vaccinated ahead of the start of school, because of an increase of Pertussis cases.

The FCDPH tells WFMY News 2 they've seen a higher than usual number of Pertussis cases (Whooping Cough) since June. Wtith the start of the traditional school year just a couple weeks away, they're encouraging parents to get children vaccinated, which in NC is required, especially for kindergartners and rising 7th-grade students.

In a statement to WFMY News 2 Communicable Disease Nurse Supervisor Jennifer Corso said this:

"We have investigated 17 cases of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) thus far for 2017. Of those 17, 9 cases have been investigated from June through July. We have had an outbreak in adolescents and wanted to take the opportunity to encourage parents to make sure students are current on vaccine, especially with the start of school in the near future."

What is Pertussis/Whooping Cough?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), Pertussis also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old

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CDC reports from 2013-2014 North Carolina saw an increase in Whooping cough cases.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Severe fits of coughing, including rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched, “whoop” sound
  • Coughing fits followed by vomiting
  • Exhaustion after coughing fits
  • Apnea (temporarily stopped breathing—usually in infants)

Symptoms can vary by individuals. Contact your doctor if you suspect you or your child is experiencing pertussis symptoms.

Who Should Receive the Vaccine?

Everyone needs protection from pertussis. State law requires all kindergartners and rising 7th-grade students be up to date on their pertussis vaccination before the beginning of the school year. Children under 7 years of age should receive five doses of DTaP. DTaP is a vaccine series that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It is recommended that the DTaP series begin at 2 months of age, and continue at 4 months, 6 months, 15–18 months, and 4–6 years of age.

For older children and adults a different vaccine, the Tdap, is given. Children 7 through 10 years of age should receive one dose of Tdap if they were not fully vaccinated with DTaP. Adolescents through age 18 should receive one dose of Tdap; preferably between the ages of 11 and 12. Everyone 19 years of age or older should receive one dose of Tdap.

The Tdap vaccine is highly recommended for the following populations:

  • Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant
  • Anyone who has close contact with infants under 12 months of age (parents, siblings, grandparents, household contacts, child care providers)
  • Anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease