Guam – The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) has received 14 reports of suspect Pertussis cases (whooping cough).
7 were laboratory confirmed, 6 remain suspect cases and one was determined not to be pertussis. Epidemiologic investigation of the cases has not shown any linkage to each other or to an off-island source. Investigations to determine possible sources of exposure on Guam are ongoing.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease of the respiratory tract. It is primarily spread by direct contact with discharge from the nose and throat of infected individuals. Symptoms in children are characterized by repeated violent fits of coughing followed by a high-pitched inspiratory crowing sound or “whoop”. Vomiting often follows these coughing episodes. Infected infants under 6 months of age and vaccinated persons may have a chronic cough without the characteristic “whoop”.
Parents are urged to make sure that their children receive their recommended immunizations (see schedule below). If they are not sure their children are completely immunized (see schedule below), they should contact their family doctor or the Department of Public Health and Social Services, to bring their children’s immunization up to date.
DPHSS is encouraging parents to help protect their very young infants by minimizing exposure (close contact) with persons who have cold symptoms or cough illness. Coughing people of any age, including parents, siblings and grandparents can have Pertussis. When a person has cold symptoms or cough illness, they need to stay away from young infants as much as possible.
Adults and children 7 years and older usually develop a much milder form of Pertussis. Anyone who is suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease should be seen by their physician.
Children should receive all four doses of DTaP vaccine by 15 months of age and an additional dose of DTaP before they start school.
Health care providers are urged to review and update the immunization status of all children and adolescent patients they see. Routine vaccination of children under the age of 7 years should continue as recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practice (ACIP). If vaccination is contraindicated because of any acute illness, a follow-up appointment should be scheduled.
For more information, please call the Department of Public Health and Social Services’ Immunization Program at 735-7143/136.