From the Print

Whooping cough in town

Whooping cough is on the rise in Ohio, and the disease has made its way to Yellow Springs, according to local medical professionals.

Two cases of the disease have been reported in the local schools, according to school nurse Michelle Brown, and one case at the Community Children’s Center, according to center director Marlin Newell.

“Watch out for the symptoms,” Brown said in an interview this week, stating that she has concerns because “we have a population of students who don’t receive the vaccines.” It’s also possible for those who have been vaccinated to contract the illness, she said.

In an interview on Tuesday, Amy Schmitt of the Greene County Combined Health District confirmed that Greene County has also seen an uptick in the disease.

“It seems widespread,” she said. “It’s everywhere.”

However, Schmitt said the department had not yet had time to compile statistics.
“We’re getting reports faster than we can keep up with them,” she said.

However, the county has seen no fatalities so far and no known cases of hospitalizations. So far this year, the county has had nine confirmed cases of whooping cough, although the district is in the process of investigating two dozen more.

The main symptom of whooping cough is a hacking cough that can be so violent that it leads to vomiting, although the illness may begin with cold symptoms that later progress to coughing spasms. Those who exhibit the hacking cough should see a doctor, Brown said, as an antibiotic is effective in treating the illness. A blood test is used to diagnose whooping cough. With antibiotics, the person is no longer contagious after five days, according to the Ohio Health Department, and without antibiotics, it takes about 21 days to no longer be contagious.

The disease can be deadly, especially to infants. According to the Ohio Department of Health, while whooping cough is fatal to 1 percent of those who contract the disease, many in that number are infants, and half the infants who contract whooping cough end up in the hospital. It is also especially dangerous to those with diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This year whooping cough has been up 20 percent in Ohio, with 901 cases reported by Nov. 2, compared to 742 reported last year, according to Cleveland.com. The greatest number of cases has been found in counties close to Columbus.

Brown advises that parents, in addition to watching for symptoms, should make sure their children are following standard preventative measures, including washing their hands frequently, drinking lots of fluids and getting sufficient rest.

“Just take care of yourself the best that you can,” she said.

Newell echoed Brown’s concerns regarding children who have not been vaccinated, since Yellow Springs appears to have many parents who have opted out of, or delayed, vaccinating their children due to concerns about the vaccine’s reactions.

“I worry for the children who aren’t immunized,” she said.

The Children’s Center child who contracted the disease had the antibiotics, stayed home for five days, and is now back at the center, she said.

Contact: dchiddister {at} ysnews(.)com

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