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Pertussis cases on the rise in Lexington

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Posted at 11:04 PM, Jun 11, 2024

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Cases of Pertussis or Whooping Cough are up in Lexington.

27 cases have been reported since April 26 in Fayette County compared to 16 total in the past five years, according to the Lexington Fayette County Health Department.

"I think it's a decrease in herd immunity. The percentage of people who are vaccinated for Pertussis, once you get lower than the 90 percent, you start to see breakthrough cases of Pertussis," Dr. Elizabeth Hawse from Commonwealth Pediatrics said.

Advice for adults from Dr. Hawse is to get your Pertussis vaccination updated once every ten years.

"We need to figure out when was our last Pertussis vaccination. Most of that will be calling your doctor," Hawse added.

Or you can do a web search for the Kentucky Immunization Registry and make an account. However, keep in mind, the first course of action is to reach out to your primary physician.

"This is a good reason to stay up to date on your check-up, so your primary physician knows that you're up to date on things like this and you sort of don't get surprised," Hawse notes.

For school-age children, the Pertussis vaccine is part of the routine immunization schedule and for ages 11 and older, a booster is recommended. Adults need to know the impact a lingering cough can have on little babies.

"Those vaccinated at two, four, six and eighteen months, those babies. When they get that fourth Pertussis vaccine around 18 months...before that, they don't have great Pertussis protection," Hawse said.

The message from Dr. Hawse on what to look for if you have an ongoing cough, even if you feel fine, is to see your physician.

"Get evaluated and see if you have Pertussis. Most people that's not going to be the case, but it's really difficult to tell," Hawse said.

This means a good history and exam from a medical professional can provide some answers.