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We are pleased to bring you the 12th edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide
opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members and others in the community.


Pertussis (whooping cough) is a common disease in the United States, with peaks in disease every 3 to 5 years and frequent outbreaks. In fact, Texas is on track to have their highest number of cases in 50 years. Pertussis is difficult to diagnose and therefore infected people are able to unknowingly spread this disease to at-risk persons, such as infants. The best method to prevent disease and outbreaks is vaccination against pertussis.


While most people are very aware of childhood immunizations, many are unaware of adult immunization recommendations. Virus and bacteria can present a challenge to our health at any age and immunizations, along with handwashing, are tools we should use at every age.

Because pertussis has been causing a significant increase in illness and death in the past few years, this month we want to share why this vaccine is important not only for babies, but also for the people who love and care for them.



Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. The inspiratory cough that occurs after fits of coughing is what give whooping cough it's name. To hear this characteristic cough, go to


Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. The disease is spread by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.


The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Infants may have apnea instead of the traditional cough.

The rapid and often violent coughing can lead to vomiting, exhaustion, rib fracture and even rupture of blood vessels in the eyes.





Source:  z




There has been a significant increase in the number of cases reported nationwide over the past few years - but it is a very difficult diagnosis to prove.






Allen County Data









Pertussis cases




In infants younger than 1 year of age who get pertussis, about half are hospitalized. The younger the infant, the more likely treatment in the hospital will be needed. Of those infants who are hospitalized with pertussis about: 

  • 1 in 4 (23%) get pneumonia (lung infection)
  • 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will have convulsions (violent, uncontrolled shaking)
  • Two thirds (67%) will have apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
  • 1 in 300 (0.4%) will have encephalopathy (disease of the brain)
  • 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will die


Adults may have a prolonged and somewhat miserable course but the greatest threat is that they may unknowingly transmit the bacteria to their grandchildren or other babies around them.

What You Can Do


 As a health care provider:  

  • Because immunity can wane over time, make sure that adults are protected against pertussis. One easy way to do this is to give Tdap (tetanus-diptheria-pertussis) instead of their next regular tetanus booster--that Td shot that they were supposed to get every 10 years.
  • Vaccinate pregnant patients.  Health care personnel should administer a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy irrespective of the patient's prior history of receiving Tdap. To maximize the maternal antibody response and passive antibody transfer to the infant, optimal timing for Tdap administration is between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. For women not previously vaccinated with Tdap, Tdap should be administered immediately postpartum if it is not administered during pregnancy. 
  • Remind new parents and grandparents to get vaccinated before the baby is born. 

As a parent/grandparent

  • Gettng vaccinated with Tdap - at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant - is especially important for families and caregivers of new infants.
  • Mothers should get vaccinated during each pregnancy.
  • Make sure your baby is properly vaccinated for pertussis.
  • If you or your child have been diagnosed with pertussis, you should stay home until you have finished 5 days of antibiotics, unless you have already been coughing for 3 or more weeks. 

As a funder or public official:      

  • Support funding for research, biotechnology and manufacture of all important vaccines and medications required to treat infectious diseases.


  • The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health offers the DTap or Tdap (tetanus-diptheria-pertussis) vaccine to children and adults. The cost is $39, but some may be eligible for free or reduced cost vaccine. The clinic is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Please contact the Immunization Clinic at (260) 449-7514 to make an appointment. Prices are subject to change. Visit
  • Super Shot Inc. provides immunications, including the pertussis vaccine, to children and teens up to age 18.  There is an $8 fee per shot, but no one is turned away for inabilty to pay. Visit or call  (260) 424-7468 for clinic times and locations
  • MyVax Indiana is a user friendly Web site which allows parents and other individuals to look up their immunization records from any computer through the use of a personal identification number (PIN). PINs can be obtained from healthcare providers or the local health department and used to log in to the secure Web site, where users can then download, print or fax the records. Each record also displays the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended immunization schedule. To learn more, visit or call 1-888-227-4439.
  • Anyone needing to verify an immunization record can also contact the Indiana State Department of Health's Immunization Line at (800) 701-0704


Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way of Allen County 2-1-1
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health