Whooping Cough cases on the rise

Peds ED Logo_RGBTMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department is issuing a heads-up about a recent increase in cases of pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.  So far this year, nine cases have been confirmed – eight of those coming in just since May.

At this point, the Pima County Health Department is NOT considering this an outbreak or epidemic.  TMC simply wants to make people aware, and take the opportunity to educate the public.

Symptoms are similar to an upper respiratory infection:  Cough, cold, congestion and fever.  How can you tell if your child’s cough is caused from a cold?  Could it be croup?  How do you know if it’s whooping cough?  You may hear a croup cough described as a barking cough that sounds like a seal.  Whooping cough is a cough that does not stop.  It’s especially dangerous to those with compromised immune systems – the very young, and the very old.

“It’s very dangerous for young children, especially babies, as it affects their ability to breathe,” explained Tammy Myers, RN.  “Babies can cough so hard and so long that oftentimes they appear to be choking, and can turn blue.  They come into TMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department, and can end up in the ICU with pneumonia where they may need help breathing.  We especially want to protect the little ones who don’t have much immunity on board yet.  We also want to protect our elderly and make sure they are vaccinated and seeing their provider regularly.  They too can get very ill.”

The good news – pertussis is preventable.

The best way to avoid it?  Get vaccinated.  There are vaccines for infants, children, preteens, adults and seniors.  The childhood vaccine is called DTaP.  The pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap.  It’s a combination of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines.

Make sure everyone in your family has immunizations that are up to date, and that everyone is receiving regular checkups.

Rest assured that TMC takes care of these patients quickly, and in a manner not to expose others.  All safety measures are strictly followed.  If a patient comes in with a suspected case of whooping cough, masks are immediately placed on everyone.  The patient is placed in a negative pressure room that is like an isolation area so that others are not exposed.

In the event you are exposed to pertussis, or start to develop symptoms, let your physician know right away.  Your provider may prescribe medication to treat you.  Also, it’s imperative that you wear a mask to the doctor’s office, or ask them to provide you with one immediately so that you are not spreading it to our community.

Click here to see KGUN 9 On Your Side’s coverage of this story.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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