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Pertussis still an issue in Clark County

Clark County health officials are still working to contain a “community outbreak” of pertussis, or whooping cough, with 44 suspected cases and 14 confirmed since Oct. 1.

Clark County Combined Health District commissioner Charles Patterson said he expects the cases to continue to climb, but with continuing education and more vaccinations the district is hoping it can also slow the spread of the disease.

“That’s what we’re hoping to do,” Patterson said.

Both the state and county have seen a major spike in pertussis cases this year.

The recent outbreak lifted this year’s totals to 68 possible cases with 45 confirmed. Earlier this year, twelve cases were confirmed.

In 2011, the health district investigated 10 cases of pertussis. Last year, 15 cases were investigated, eight of which were confirmed.

A press release from the Ohio Department of Health on Friday said 905 cases have been confirmed statewide.

“We’re not just seeing it here, but also in the Miami Valley and across the state,” Patterson said.

The best way to prevent pertussis is vaccination. Both county and state officials are urging adults in need of a tetanus booster to get an up-to-date vaccine.

“We’re trying to get out in front of this,” Patterson said.

Several vaccines exist for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, while the booster vaccine is called Tdap, short for Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis.

Pregnant women should also receive a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably between the 27 and 36 weeks gestation period in order to maximize the antibody transfer to the baby.

Anyone who lives with or is a daily caregiver for children ages five and under should also receive a dose of Tdap.

Pertussis signs include runny nose, low-grade fever and an initial mild cough. As the disease progresses, the coughing will become more rapid and is followed by a high-pitched “whoop,” vomiting or exhaustion. Young children, particularly infants, have a difficult time controlling the cough so they can breathe regularly, Patterson said. In rare cases, it can cause complications and even death.

The outbreak temporarily closed The Rocking Horse Center’s South Limestone Campus on Nov. 1 and 2 after an employee was diagnosed with a confirmed case of pertussis. A second employee was later diagnosed as well.

For more information on receiving the vaccines, call 937-390-5600 or visit

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