Tribe Treats Whooping Cough Cases

The Choctaw Health Center said it has recently treated 17 total cases of pertussis, or whooping cough.

That includes eight patients on the reservation, five in the last two weeks including a Choctaw infant who lived in Meridian, as well as members of their families.

A spokesman said the center is working hard to limit the outbreak.

Whooping cough is caused by bacteria and is contagious, but treatable.

It causes severe coughing spells that often end in a "whooping" sound when the person inhales.

Babies less than six months are susceptible because they are too young to be fully vaccinated.

According to a news release from the Choctaw, whooping cough is beginning to show up again in teens and adults whose immunity has worn off from the immunizations received as children. It advised: the first symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and mild fever. After 1 - 2 weeks, the cough becomes coughing spells that can last more than a minute and cause the child to turn red or purple. At the end of the cough spell, the child may make a "whooping" sound when they breathe in or they may vomit. Between cough spells, the person usually feels well. Adults and adolescents with whooping cough may have milder symptoms such as a prolonged cough, but without the whooping sound.

Treatment should be started as soon as whooping cough is suspected and close contacts of the patient can be given medicine to prevent them from coming down with the infection, if started early.

Because adults and adolescents often get whooping cough without realizing it, then pass it to the young children, it is recommended that teens and adults get re-immunized to protect themselves and the very young.

The adult pertussis immunization can be given to those age 9 years, if it has been at least 2 years since their last tetanus shot. Re-vaccination is very important in outbreak situations.

Treatment, preventative medicine and the pertussis vaccine are all available at the Choctaw Health Center. Please contact Community Health Services (601) 389-6259 for more information.

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