Today there is a growing problem threatening babies and children, and it's hitting home in southwest Minnesota. The good news is you can prevent it from spreading. Pertussis cases, commonly known as whooping cough, could reach their highest level in over 50 years in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lyon, Redwood and Cottonwood counties have already seen seven confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough, according to July numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health. This is concerning because pertussis is extremely dangerous to newborns who are not yet immunized. It can cause serious illness and death in these unprotected infants.
The best way to prevent this danger is to get vaccinated. The March of Dimes strongly supports the CDC's recommendation that adults - especially pregnant women - get an adult Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster to keep from contracting and spreading pertussis to the babies with whom they are in contact.
However, it is not enough to just get yourself vaccinated. U.S. data reveals that 92 percent of deaths due to pertussis were children under the age of 12. When these deaths were traced, most infants and children were found to have contracted the illness from their own family members. If you are planning to get pregnant, ask your health care provider about getting an adult Tdap vaccine. If you did not get a Tdap vaccine before or during pregnancy, you can get it right after giving birth. It is the best way to prevent contracting pertussis and passing it on to your baby. Until your baby gets his or her full set of pertussis shots, the best way to protect him or her is for you and the other adults in your household to get the booster and to avoid contact with people who may have an acute illness.
The March of Dimes was founded to fight polio, and we funded the research for the Salk and Sabin vaccines that effectively ended the polio epidemic. Today, we encourage parents to make sure their children get all 14 vaccines, including polio, that can keep them safe from serious disease.
So protect yourself and your family from whooping cough. Sounds of Pertussis, a joint initiative from Sanofi Pasteur and the March of Dimes, is a national education campaign to raise awareness about the potential dangers of pertussis and the importance of adult Tdap immunization. Learn more at soundsofpertussis.com.