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Whooping cough on the rise in Michigan

Oct. 5, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Sindecuse Health Center at Western Michigan University is reporting a typical number of pertussis--whooping cough--cases for the start of a new semester, but Michigan, overall, is seeing a rise in the diagnosis of the infection this year.

The misery associated with pertussis is best described by one of its names, "the one-hundred-day cough." While antibiotics will kill the bacteria responsible for the infection, the irritating cough lingers long after antibiotics take effect.

"It is recommended that adolescents and adults receive a one-time dose of pertussis protection, in combination with diphtheria and tetanus, with a vaccine called Tdap," says Dr. Lisa Marshall, Sindecuse medical director.

"Before coming to Sindecuse to get your flu vaccination, check to see if your primary care physician has given you a Tdap vaccination. If not, you can receive two vaccines on one trip to the health center and avoid a semester of coughing," says Marshall.

The pertussis bacteria lines the airways and releases toxins creating inflammation and swelling, producing severe, rapid, dry coughing spells. Coughing fits may become very intense and associated with gagging, vomiting, fatigue, and rib pain or fracture.

Similar to influenza, pertussis is very contagious during the first two weeks of the illness and is spread by the infected person's coughs and sneezes.

The cost of the Tdap vaccine is in the range of $42 to $54, depending on the patient, with most insurance plans covering the charges.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control for more information about pertussis.

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Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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