CDC Examines Whooping Cough Outbreak

By: Andrea Williams and Tametria Conner Email
By: Andrea Williams and Tametria Conner Email

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Mississippi to examine a recent outbreak of the pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Within the last few weeks, at least 100 cases have been reported in Mississippi, with more than 70 of those in and around Neshoba County.

Newscenter 11 spoke with Jennifer Lofton, who says she was called to Neshoba Central Elementary School where her daughter attends, after a child in her class was diagnosed with whooping cough.

"At school they sent four kids home with it today and there's no telling how many others there are," said Lofton. "I just feel something needs to be done about it."

According to CDC officials, something is being done about it.

"I'm impressed that they're doing the right thing," said Dr. Taj Tiwari, a medical
epidemiologist with the CDC. "We talked with people this morning and they're making all the right moves."

These right moves include the local health department providing extended hours for vaccinations and ample medication for people exposed to the whooping cough.

"It's not really clear (what caused the outbreak) simply because of pre-vaccination rates in certain communities. Another theory is that the vaccinations that children are getting does not protect them for the rest of his or her lifespan," said Tiwari.

CDC officials say the Neshoba County outbreak is not an isolated occurrence. In fact, they say that there have been others in recent years in other states that have taken up to a year to eliminate.

While this disease can be deadly for the very young, health care officials are advising the public to be careful, but not overly concerned.

"I wouldn't like for them to over react ,but they should be concerned to protect their health," Tiwari said.

The main concern is with small children, because they are the most susceptible to whooping cough.

Vaccines are the best method of prevention, but it takes about a month for that immunity to build. Vaccines are available at all state health departments.

"If you are coughing, don't go to church and to school," said Dr. Rebecca James of the Mississippi Department of Health. "If it's a very hard cough, go and see your physician and let him decide if you need to be put on medicines because if you're treated very early, it can shorten the symptoms."

Other steps for avoiding whooping cough:

Be aware of health conditions of people around you. If they are coughing, try to keep your distance.

If you suspect an abnormal cough, see a physician immediately.


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