Fairfield Medical sees increase in Pertussis cases
LANCASTER – Over the last several months, Fairfield Medical Center’s Infection Control Department has observed an increase in the number of Pertussis cases (also known as whooping cough) in our community. As of July 2010, there have been 36 cases detected through the laboratory at Fairfield Medical Center. Donna Hedges, Fairfield Medical Center Infection Control Practitioner, said, “We have maintained open communication with the Fairfield County Department of Health and they are actively monitoring and following up on all reported cases.”
“Compared to last year, this is a significantincrease in numbers. In 2009, the hospital detected 24 cases for the entire year and of course we are concerned since we are only half way through this year. In fact, this is very troubling to us; during the summer we don’t normally see these high numbers,” noted Dr. Andrew Murry, Infectious Disease Physician at Fairfield Medical Center.
Pertussis is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing while in close contact with others and one of the best ways to prevent Pertussis is by getting vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is high vaccine coverage for children nationwide. However, protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Adolescents and adults need to be revaccinated, even if they were completely vaccinated as children.
Due to this rise in the number of cases, for the upcoming 2010 - 2011 school year, Ohio law for immunizations needed to enter school has been changed. New this year, a booster dose of the Tdap vaccine (providing protection against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) is required for all students entering the seventh grade. The Ohio Department of Health recently made this revision to the immunization requirements for school attendance.
Dr. Murry commented, “We strongly urge parents to plan ahead and meet this requirement as soon as possible. There are many opportunities to receive this vaccination for the overall safety and well being of children in our community.” Murry recommended families attend the Community HealthFest held on August 14th from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm where children can receive their vaccinations for free. These no cost vaccines are thanks to the Fairfield Medical Center Foundation, Lancaster Rotary, Fairfield Department of Health, and United Way. The Fairfield Department of Health will also be offering vaccination clinics at Ohio University- Lancaster on August 28, 9:00 am - 1:30 pm, August 31, 4 - 7 p.m. and September 11, 9 a.m. to noon.
For more information or questions, please call Infection Control at (740) 687-8625 or the Fairfield Department of Health at (740) 653-4489.