What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 2 days ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 3 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 3 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 12 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 13 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 21 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 21 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
2 years 23 weeks ago
More in News
701 confirmed pertussis cases statewide
STATE — A December 20 update from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that pertussis, a serious and potentially deadly infection also known as whooping cough, has more than tripled in the last year.
According to the report, there have been 701 confirmed and probable pertussis cases statewide from January 1, 2012 to December 20, 2012 – and numbers continue to climb.
Since June, within a six-month period, the total has jumped from 125 – an increase of 576 cases.
During the same period last year, the report states there were 200 confirmed cases of pertussis statewide. In 2010, there were only 53 confirmed cases.
Pertussis, according to MECDC Director Sheila Pinette, breaks out in clusters, primarily in schools, child care centers, camps, workplaces and sports teams. It is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory secretions of those infected. Symptoms include paroxysmal cough and posttussive vomiting, which can last for many weeks.
It can even cause serious illness or death to those most susceptible to the bacteria, Pinette said, particularly infants.
"It can get into their lungs and cause pneumonia, and get into their nose ... and cause meningitis," she explained.
According to the December 20 report, the cough affects infants less than six months old to adults, 19 years old. In the 11- to 19-year-old age group alone, pertussis has affected 218 people at a rate of 146.26 per 100,000.
A chart showing the number of cases by county indicates Oxford County has had 30 confirmed cases of pertussis.
State Epidemiologist Stephen Stears reported that no cases had been confirmed in Oxford County June 21. In an update, a week later, MECDC reported there were 4 confirmed cases in Oxford County.
In denser population areas, total cases are significantly higher, Pinette reported – Cumberland County has had 215 confirmed cases; Somerset County – 98 and Penobscot and York counties – 64.
"Just the nature of people traveling and communicating with each other, we start to see in the spring a rise [in pertussis]," Pinette explained.
"It also went up in the summer, and we [MECDC] were hoping it was going to go down, but people are at camps and it's passed among children in schools," she said.
According to Pinette, pertussis, while highly contagious, is preventable via vaccination.
Pinette said infants, between two to six months, 12-15 months and again around four or five years old, receive the immunization before entering school.
However, Pinette guesses that the rise in the number of confirmed cases is because of people not getting their vaccinations on time. "They don't get immunized to the fullest capacity," she explained.
"They may have some decreased efficacy in the actual vaccine," she said.
She said the immunization rate for pertussis is only around 63 percent, particularly among teenagers ages 12-15.
"It's a product of kids being healthy and being active in sports," Pinette said, "and parents work, and so remembering the immunization schedule to bring them [teenagers] in is hard."
She said doctors may even forget to offer the immunization because they are busy or distracted taking care of other health concerns.
According to Pinette, preventing pertussis from continuing to spread is "all about keeping up with the immunization." She also recommends other practices such as coughing into the shoulder and thorough hand washing to prevent exposure.
She said according to federal recommendations, adults should at least get one immunization, especially those over the age of 65.
Pinette said pertussis has been gradually increasing since the new vaccine was created in 1996.
"We are seeing it rising all across the nation right now," Pinette said, of the number of pertussis cases.
She said the increase is being investigated by the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention and it's believed to be caused by the vaccine itself.
"It's probably not as effective as the old vaccine, in terms of combating it," she said.
"If you're not on task in keeping up with your immunization, you won't be protected as well."