LA among counties with highest rate of whooping cough cases

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The New Mexico Department of Health reported Friday that 331 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have been reported in New Mexico in 2013. Los Alamos is among the counties with the highest rates.

“Pertussis is very contagious and can cause serious illness —especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent pertussis.

The Department of Health recommends that pregnant women and anyone who is going to be around a baby make sure they are up to date on their pertussis vaccination.”

The counties with the highest rate of pertussis this year are Los Alamos, Taos and Santa Fe. Rates are used to describe disease activity of cases over a given period of time.

Rates take into account the different population sizes of demographic groups or geographic areas so that meaningful comparisons can be made between groups and areas.

In 2012, 898 cases of pertussis were reported in New Mexico.

Two children died last year.

No deaths have been reported this year, but nine infants have been hospitalized.

New Mexicans can contact their health care provider or pharmacy to get vaccinated. Public health offices offer the vaccine to those without insurance.

There are two types of pertussis vaccine: DTaP and Tdap. DTaP is the vaccine for infants and children, and Tdap is the pertussis vaccine for older children, adolescents and adults.

Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy, ideally between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy.

Vaccinating during pregnancy allows for protective antibodies to be passed from the mother to the fetus so that the newborn is protected in the first 2 months of life before receiving first pertussis vaccinations at 2 months of age.

This strategy was first recommended by CDC in February of 2013.

Anyone who is going to be around an infant should make sure they have been vaccinated with Tdap before coming in contact with an infant.

The principle behind this strategy is that by assuring that everyone around an infant has been vaccinated, the risk of transmission to the vulnerable infant can be reduced.

This strategy, known as “cocooning,” was first recommended by CDC in 2006.