The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new statewide alert about whooping cough.

The state had 300 reported pertussis cases from Jan. 1 through July 26. Seventy-five cases were reported during the same period in 2011, and a total of 205 were reported last year.

The state health agency is warning physicians to watch for symptoms and potential cases and to test and treat patients to slow the spread of the disease. The state is also reminding physicians to keep children up to date with immunizations and to give vaccinations to adults, especially those who have contact with children.

Pertussis is a highly communicable disease that causes a severe cough and can last for many weeks. It can cause serious illness and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.

Vaccination is not 100 percent effective and immunity wanes over time. However, unvaccinated children are eight times more likely to become infected with pertussis. Vaccinated children who do get pertussis have milder symptoms and recover more quickly, according to the CDC.

In Maine this year, most of the cases have involved people age 7 to 19. Cases have increased nationwide. As of July 5, 37 states had reported increases in pertussis over the same period in 2011.

Suspected cases of pertussis should be reported to the Maine CDC at (800) 821-5821.

General information on pertussis and statewide weekly surveillance reports can be found on the Maine CDC website.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

[email protected]

 


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