Public Health Issues Wooping Cough Alert After 5 Month Old Infant Diagnosed With Pertussis

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Guam – The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) has received a laboratory report confirming a case of Pertussis or whooping cough in a 5 month old infant who did not receive any DTaP vaccination.
Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis that lasts for many weeks and is typically manifested in children with paroxysmal spasms of severe coughing, whooping, and posttussive vomiting. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized young infants are particularly vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging the Pacific Islands and U.S. territories to enhance surveillance for Pertussis.

Pertussis is primarily transmitted by direct contact with discharges from respiratory secretions by the airborne route, probably by droplets, or contact with freshly contaminated articles of an infected person.  Because of the high probability of transmission and spread of pertussis on Guam, DPHSS would like to alert all physicians to maintain a high index of suspicion for this condition.  Based on current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the clinical case definition for pertussis is:

An acute cough illness lasting at least 2 weeks with either paroxysms of coughing, inspiratory “whoop,” or posttussive vomiting without other apparent cause.

Pertussis is a Category I reportable disease which requires healthcare professionals to immediately provide a telephone report as soon as a suspect or “rule/out” diagnosis is established (do not wait for laboratory confirmation).  Therefore, all health care providers in Guam are urged to be on alert for possible cases of pertussis and to promptly report suspect cases to the Immunization Program, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, at 735-7143/7160 or 735-7135.  After working hours or weekends, please contact Ms. Annette Aguon at 988-3480 or Ms. Josephine O’Mallan at 888-9276.

Your cooperation in assuring that pertussis does not become a problem on Guam is greatly appreciated.