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Press Release - 7/21/2017

Wicomico Health Department Investigating Potential Pertussis Exposure

News Release

Media Contact: Tammy Griffin

443-366-2685 (c)

410-219-7480 (w)

Wicomico Health Department Investigating Potential Pertussis Exposure

Salisbury, MD (July 21, 2017) - The Wicomico County Health Department is currently investigating the possible exposure to pertussis, also known as “whooping cough”, of children who attended a vacation bible school held July 10-14, 2017, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Salisbury, MD.

Pertussis is a highly contagious illness that begins with mild, cold-like symptoms including cough and runny nose. These first symptoms typically appear seven to ten days after a person is exposed.   The cough usually worsens over the following weeks and becomes spasmodic.  The cough may be followed by a “whooping” sound.  The spasms of cough may also be followed by vomiting. 

Some persons with pertussis may have very mild symptoms (mild cough with no other symptoms) and may not realize that they are sick or contagious.  Pertussis is most severe in infants and can cause death. Pertussis is spread through coughing or sneezing.  It can also be spread by sharing food or utensils with someone who has pertussis.

Pertussis is treated with antibiotics.  Children who take appropriate antibiotics are no longer contagious after the fifth day of antibiotic treatment.  Without antibiotic treatment, a person with pertussis is considered to be contagious and can spread the illness to others, for three weeks after the cough starts.  It is important that ill children stay at home away from others (especially from infants and young children) while potentially contagious.

Wicomico County Health Department is stressing the importance of ensuring family vaccinations are up-to-date. Pertussis vaccine is administered to children in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccine (DTaP) in a five-dose series and protects children against whooping cough. For adolescents, a Tdap booster is recommended at age 11-12 years.  Parents should check with their health care provider ensure children’s shots are up-to-date.

Parents who have children who attended the bible school should watch for symptoms of pertussis over the next several weeks.  If any symptoms are identified, parents should contact their child’s primary care physician, as well as the Wicomico County Health Department at (410) 543-6943, as soon as possible.