Charles Cole Hospital Steps Up Pertussis Awareness, Education

Whooping Cough Clinic to be Held May 29

COUDERSPORT – Charles Cole Memorial Hospital (CCMH) is highlighting the importance of vaccination and awareness of the signs and symptoms of pertussis (whooping cough) due to several identified cases in Potter County.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease that affects the lungs and airways of individuals of all ages however infants and young children have the highest risk of severe complications. It is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis which is found in the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected person. Pertussis spreads via airborne droplets from the nose and mouth of infected persons that are most contagious early in the course of illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site at www.cdc.gov provides pertussis information and guidelines for the proper methods to cover a cough using the arm; hand hygiene steps; mask instructions; and the importance of no contact with others until completion of treatment or approval is granted by a health care provider.

Symptoms usually start five to ten days after exposure to another person with the disease, but may take as long as 20 days to develop. They include sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and mild coughing that progresses to severe coughing. Some persons have episodes of rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched whoop as they take a deep breath. However, not everyone with pertussis has a whooping cough, especially very young infants.

Charles ColeMemorialHospital’s Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive Cynthia Hardesty said, “It’s important that you immediately contact your health care provider as soon as you have pertussis symptoms or exposure to an infected person.”

“Diagnosis is based on the recovery of the bacteria from nasopharyngeal (nose and throat swab) specimens obtained early in the course of the disease,” added Mrs. Hardesty.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Pertussis Fact Sheet, antibiotics may be useful early in the disease to reduce the spread to other persons. However, once severe symptoms begin, antibiotics may not have any effect.

The single best control measure is adequate vaccination. The pertussis vaccine is usually given to children with other vaccines such as diphtheria and tetanus (DTaP vaccine). Children should be routinely immunized at ages 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months, at 4-6 years, and 11-12 years. Other high risk groups such as pregnant women or those with close contact with infants should consult their health care provider for recommended vaccine.

“CharlesColeMemorialHospital offers Tdap to their health care personnel to protect the employee, patients and visitors,” said Kris Zitnik, director Quality Management and Infection Control. “Additional education and infection control measures are also in place to prevent exposure and/or transmission.”

Revisions have been made to the Hospital’s Visitation Policy until further notice. Visitors are currently not permitted in the Maternity Unit or Nursery, except immediate family members with no symptoms.

A pertussis vaccination clinic will be held on May 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. by the north central Pennsylvania Department of Health office. Call 814-274-3626 for an appointment. The cost is $5 cash or money order. Immunizations may also be received by contacting your primary care physician or locating a Charles Cole Memorial health care provider at 814-274-9300. For more information about whooping cough, visit www.cdc.gov, www.health.state.pa.us or www.charlescolehospital.com.