Respiratory Disease Hits Several States Including Florida

Apr 18 • 613 Views • View Comments

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-The Florida Department of Health recommends protecting yourself and others from whooping cough-

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Health (DOH) advises parents, childcare workers and healthcare providers to verify the children they care for are properly immunized against pertussis, a respiratory disease also known as whooping cough. DOH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) experts also advise new parents, grandparents and relatives to get fully immunized before being around an infant. Since January 1, 2012, DOH has identified 112 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis, with at least one case in twenty-two Florida counties. Counties include Alachua (3), Broward (2), Citrus(1), Clay(1), Collier(4), Miami-Dade(15), Duval(2), Escambia(1), Gulf(1), Hillsborough(35), Lee(13), Leon(1), Martin(1), Monroe(4), Nassau(3), Orange(3), Osceola(3), Palm Beach(7), Pasco(5), Polk(5), Seminole(1) and Volusia (1).

The occurrences in Florida are consistent with the rise in cases seen across the United States. Recently, outbreaks have occurred in Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington State.

Family members are most often the transmission source of pertussis to infants. A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough, runny nose, sneezing and a low-grade fever. After 1-2 weeks, the coughing becomes more severe. Rapid coughing fits can occur that often end with a whooping sound. Pertussis is spread when infected individuals cough or sneeze while in close contact with others. Pertussis is most dangerous for infants and children, and usually a milder disease in adolescents and adults. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics.

Year Number of Confirmed and Probable Pertussis Cases Reported in Florida
2000 67
2001 30
2002 53
2003 113
2004 132
2005 208
2006 228
2007 211
2008 314
2009 497
2010 328

Source: Florida Annual Morbidity Statistics Reports available at

Provisional data indicate that 312 confirmed and probable pertussis cases were reported to DOH in 2011.
How do we prevent pertussis?

Children 6 years of age and younger are routinely vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Ask your doctor if your children have received all the pertussis shots needed for his or her age.

Age-appropriate immunization with a vaccine against pertussis is required in Florida for attendance in licensed child care centers and schools through seventh grade.

Vaccination of children attending child care and school protects both the children who receive the vaccine, and the children surrounding them who have medical reasons that they cannot be vaccinated. When there is a pertussis outbreak in a school, children attending school with a religious, temporary medical or permanent medical exemption to pertussis vaccine may be excluded from school until the outbreak is over or they receive vaccine, both to protect them and to interrupt the outbreak.

Because vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria can fade with time, pre-teens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years need to have a booster vaccine, called Tdap. This vaccine is required for school attendance in seventh grade. Teen and young adults who did not get a booster as a pre-teen should get one dose when they visit their health care provider.

All adults, including pregnant women, should get a one-time dose of Tdap followed by a tetanus, diphtheria (Td) every 10 years.
If you are age 65 years or older and anticipate being around infants, get a Tdap regardless of the timing of your last Td booster.

DOH recommends that if anyone develops a cold that includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts for two weeks or longer or if you have questions on where to get your immunizations, contact your local county health department or other local health care provider.

Additional information about school immunization and school health requirements for children can be found at these DOH Web sites: and


Contact: DOH Office of Communications
Jessica Hammonds, (850) 245-4111


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