News release from the Health District
CAIRO, Ga. - The Grady County Health Department and the Southwest Health District are working with state and local partners to investigate and control an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, an infection caused by bacteria.
"Our district epidemiologist and staff are conducting an investigation, and what we can tell you at this time is that we are currently investigating 12 symptomatic children and two symptomatic adults," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Health District Health Director.
"People who are close contacts of the sick individuals but who don't have symptoms themselves can get prophylactic antibiotics from the Grady County Health Department. However, close contacts who do have symptoms need to see their healthcare provider," Grant said.
"Pertussis can be hard to diagnose because symptoms often look like a cold with a nagging cough," she said. "Pertussis is most common in babies, but anyone can get it. It is usually mild in older children and adults, but it often causes serious problems in babies.
Symptoms begin like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and mild fever, and include a cough that slowly gets worse, Grant said.
"After one to two weeks, the cough develops into spasms or fits that are followed in children or infants by a whooping sound as they try to catch their breath. This may be followed by vomiting," she said.
"Pertussis in babies can cause breathing problems, pneumonia and swelling of the brain, which can lead to seizures and brain damage.
It may cause death. That is why it is very important to follow your baby's healthcare provider's recommendations to have your baby vaccinated against pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases."
"Pertussis vaccine is given along with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the same shot," said Grady County Health Department County Nurse Manager Peggy Connell.
"Most pertussis hospitalizations and deaths occur in children less than three months old," Grant said. "When possible, babies should be kept away from people who are coughing. Babies with any coughing illness should been seen by their healthcare provider."