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Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in the USA (Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington State, North Carolina, Michigan)

18 Dec 2017

On 17 December 2017, ProMed-mail  reported transmission of pertussis (whooping cough) across a wide area of the USA. All of these outbreaks involve school students.

Colorado (Mesa County) reports 12 cases of whooping cough since November 2017.

Wisconsin (Clark County) reports 5 families are affected by pertussis as of 12 December 2017.

Washington State (Vancouver) reports 6 cases, according to local media.

North Carolina (Henderson county) reports the number of cases in a local outbreak has risen to 45 as of 15 December in a outbreak that began in mi-November 2017.

Michigan (Grand Ledge) reported cases (number not stated) of pertussis in school students on 15 December 2017.

Advice for Travellers

Children normally receive pertussis vaccinations as part of the national schedule. Pregnant women are also advised to be vaccinated during pregnancy as antibodies are passed on to the unborn child and protect the infant when born.

Currently pertussis vaccine is not recommended for anyone over the age of 10 years, except pregnant women (as above) or during outbreak control.

Occasionally travellers going to visit family are requested to have booster doses of pertussis containing vaccine prior to travel.  This is usually grandparents going to an area where an outbreak has recently occurred (e.g. Australia, New Zealand or USA), and going to visit family where a child is due to be born or has recently been born. In this situation, the travellers are being asked to have vaccine to protect the newborn infant. However, if the pregnant woman at the destination has already been vaccinated against pertussis (which is usual practice in those countries also) there is no need for pertussis to be given to the adult travellers prior to travel.   

For further information see Pertussis.