Arkansas Department Of Heath Discusses Whooping Cough Prevention

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) — Pertussis, also called whooping cough is back this season.

On Wednesday (Nov. 6) a student at Pea Ridge Intermediate School was diagnosed with the highly contagious disease.

The Arkansas Department of Health says with more people choosing not to vaccinate their kids it’s contributing to a rise of the disease.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacteria bordetella pertussis and it can spread easily and fast.

“People get that bacteria in their respiratory tract and they cough and spread it with droplets that they spew out when they cough or sneeze," said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, Medical Director for Immunizations.

It can lead to violent coughing fits and difficulty breathing.

“Children cough so hard they vomit and adults cough so hard that they faint," Dr. Dillaha said.

Children under the age of one are at high risk of dying from the disease.

“None of my kids have ever had it but I definitely believe vaccinations are very very important," said Andrea Kennedy,  a local parent of three. "My five-year-old has a heart defect and gets sick very easily. I just feel like it's very important to protect other kids who are chronically ill and don’t have the immune system to fight it off themselves."

The ADH says the only way to prevent pertussis or stop the spread is through vaccination even after exposure.

"The vaccine does not stimulate life-long immunity. It’s effectiveness also wanes over time so, adults need to get a pertussis-containing vaccine," Dr. Dillaha said.

It’s important to know that whooping cough can be treated with an antibiotic.

In the case of an outbreak, kids who have not been vaccinated can be removed from school for at least three weeks per ADH guidelines.

Pregnant women are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

It’s recommended that all adults get vaccinated once every ten years.

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