Pertussis outbreak slows in Clark County

The pertussis outbreak in Clark County has slowed, but the area remains among the Ohio counties with the highest concentration of the disease.

There are more than 1,200 confirmed cases of the disease, also known as whooping cough, in Ohio and nearly 80 cases have been confirmed in Clark County, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said Clark County has had 77 confirmed cases of pertussis since January (ODH reports 78) and 47 of those cases were diagnosed since since Oct. 1. There are also 92 suspected and three probable cases for 2013.

But Patterson said officials are not diagnosing one patient with pertussis per day as they had previously.

“It has slowed down,” Patterson said. “Hopefully, it’s attributed to the fact that more people are getting vaccinated and more are aware of this and are staying home if they are diagnosed with it.”

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease known for uncontrollable, violent coughing that often makes it hard to breathe.

Signs of the disease 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.

Whooping cough can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications, permanent disability and even death, especially in infants and young children, according to the FDA.

Statewide, Clark, Madison, Pickaway, Licking, Delaware and Richland counties have the highest rates of the disease, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Clark County has the highest rate in the state.

Dr. Mary DiOrio, an epidemiologist for ODH, said Franklin County had a pertussis outbreak in 2010 and speculated that the high concentration of the disease in Clark and other counties could be due to waning immunity and mulitple other factors.

“We definitely have a lot of cases. We could have our highest year this year (since 2010). It could go either way. It’s hard to predict,” DiOrio said.

Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there were 48,277 cases of pertussis nationwide last year, compared to 22,304 cases reported to the agency so far this year.

He said the whooping cough cases tend to be “very cyclical,” but studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicate that the rising number of cases is due in part to changes to the vaccine in the 1990s.

McDonald said the new vaccine is good at “protecting someone from getting ill, but does not stop the spread.”

He also said the spread of the disease is not likely to be due to parents opting not to vaccinate their children as more than 90 percent kindergarten age children nationwide are vaccinated.

Patterson urged area residents to continue to take precautions to prevent the disease.

“People should still remain vigilant and if they have contemplated getting vaccinated, I still recommend getting the vaccine,” Patterson said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Springfield High hosts unique college fair
Springfield High hosts unique college fair

Springfield High School students were exposed to a one-of-a-kind college fair this week. Twelve Historically Black Colleges and Universities were present at the first HBCU Day, including Norfolk State, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical, Fisk, Spelman, Howard, Central State and Wilberforce universities. These schools were created to serve the African-American...
AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64
AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the co-founder of the rock ’n’ roll group AC/DC, died Saturday, Rolling Stone reported and the band announced on its website. He was 64. Young had been suffering from dementia for the past three years, which forced his retirement from the band that he founded with his brother Angus Young in 1973...
Texas residents find mail dumped near sewer drain
Texas residents find mail dumped near sewer drain

Residents in a Texas neighborhood are angry that their mail apparently has been going down the drain. Brenda Tisdale was walking her dogs in a southwest neighborhood in Mesquite when she noticed a few clean, white pieces of paper in a sewer drain, KTVT reported. “I was thinking, ‘that’s where all of our mail has gone,&rsquo...
Mugabe refuses to step down as Zimbabwe’s president
Mugabe refuses to step down as Zimbabwe’s president

Thousands of Zimbabwe residents marched in the streets of Harare on Saturday, demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, CNN reported. The protests in the capital city occurred days after the 93-year-old president was put under house arrest by the army, which also detained some of his key political allies. Mugabe has been Zimbabwe&rsquo...
Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 
Happy birthday: Co-workers buy car for fellow employee 

A Michigan man will never forget his 19th birthday, thanks to the generosity of his co-workers, WJRT reported. Noah Robinson had been riding his bicycle to work from Saginaw to Kochville Township, pedaling the 6 ½ miles in 45 minutes regardless of the weather conditions. He works in the shipping department at Glastender and lives with his...
More Stories