Several cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been confirmed in school-aged children across Buncombe County.
Schools, public health officials, and healthcare providers are working to identify and appropriately treat individuals suspected of having pertussis. However, the county needs the community’s help to stop the spread of this very contagious illness.
Buncombe County Health and Human Services Medical Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, emphasizes that there are some key steps that people can take to protect against pertussis. Dr. Mullendore says, “The best way to stop the spread of pertussis is through immunization. We encourage all children and adults to be up to date on their pertussis immunizations. Second, if you or your child have symptoms of pertussis – cough lasting for at least 2 weeks with either severe coughing fits, a high-pitched “whooping” sound when taking a breath, or vomiting after coughing fits—contact your healthcare provider to see if pertussis is the cause. Anyone suspected or known to have pertussis should stay home from school, work, and all other group activities until they have finished 5 days of antibiotics. This stops the spread of illness to others. Frequent handwashing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing can help prevent the spread of pertussis and other illnesses.”
To get immunized, see your healthcare provider or go to the Buncombe County Immunization Clinic at 40 Coxe Avenue in Asheville. No appointments are needed at the Buncombe County Immunization Clinic, which is open Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm (we ask that clients be checked in by 4:30pm, if possible).
By staying up-to-date on immunizations, you and your family can protect yourselves and help protect vulnerable members of our community – infants, pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems or pre-existing health conditions that can be worsened by a pertussis infection.
Dr. Mullendore adds, “We want everyone to understand that this is a very contagious infection that can be extremely serious in babies. About half of all babies less than 1 year of age who get sick with pertussis end up hospitalized. Please help us keep our community safe and healthy. Get immunized against pertussis!”
For more information on pertussis, visit www.cdc.gov/pertussis.