Officials have confirmed 14 cases of whooping cough in Ocean County, and are investigating at least three more.
The Ocean County Health Department advised residents last week to update their vaccines and practice good hand-washing techniques after identifying a local outbreak.
The outbreak has been primarily focused in the northern part of the county, especially Lakewood, said health department spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen. But cases are also being seen in neighboring communities and around the county as a whole.
Children have come down with cases of whooping cough, a bacterial infection of the lungs, in other portions of the county, Terjesen said.
Called pertussis by physicians, whooping cough starts like the common cold but later causes severe, violent and rapid coughing with a characteristic "whooping" sound, according to health officials.
The disease can be life threatening, especially for babies, Terjesen said.
"Infants don’t have as wide a windpipe as children, so they’re more likely to die from pertussis," she said.
According to the CDC, about half of infants under the age of 1 year who get pertussis end up being hospitalized. Of those, one in five get pneumonia and one in 100 die.
Vaccination among children and adults is key to preventing the disease, Terjesen told Patch last week.
The health deparmtnet said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends a four-dose primary series of DTaP at 2, 4, 6 and 15-18 months of age, followed by a fifth booster dose given at 4 to 6 years.
ACIP also makes the following recommendations for the administration of the Tdap booster:
- Adolescents 11-18 years, preferably at the 11-12 year old check up.
- All healthcare personnel who have not yet received a dose of Tdap, regardless of age.
- All adults, including those over the age of 65, should receive Tdap for their next booster dose of tetanus containing vaccine, if they have not previously received it.
- All adults, including those over the age of 65, who have or who anticipate having close contact with an infant less than 12 months of age and who have not received Tdap, should receive a single dose to protect against pertussis and reduce the likelihood of transmission.
- All adult who wants to be protected from pertussis should receive this booster.
- New mothers who have never received Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery.