*Center for Health

	September 12, 2012

To: UVM community

From: Jon Porter, MD Director of CHWB and Cheryl Flynn, MD, Medical 
Director CHWB

Re: *Health Advisory – Pertussis*****

    Pertussis (whooping cough) rates are on the rise with increasing
    number of cases reported in Vermont and the Burlington area. UVM had
    its first documented case this fall. The purpose of this message is
    to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are aware of this public
    health development and take appropriate steps to protect themselves
    and those with whom they are connected.

    *What is Pertussis? **
    Pertussis is a bacterial illness that affects the respiratory
    system; it is highly contagious. Pertussis is known for
    uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to
    breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often
    needs to take deep breaths which result in the classic "whooping"
    sound. They may also gag or vomit after coughing.Pertussis is
    especially dangerous for infants and very young children; it can
    even be fatal. Symptoms typically begin with nasal congestion and a
    mild cough which progresses in severity.Infants under twelve months
    of age are particularly vulnerable to complications associated with
    **Can it be prevented?*

    Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pertussis.Many
    people received initial vaccines as a child; however, because
    immunity associated with the vaccine begins to wane, it is important
    for everyone to make sure that they have received a booster dose of
    the vaccine.The pertussis vaccine is typically given in combination
    with the tetanus vaccination in the form of a Tdap.

    This is particularly important for health care workers and for those
    who care for infants 12 months of age or younger.

    As for all respiratory illnesses, personal hygiene is an important
    way to minimize the spread of pertussis.Washing your hands
    frequently using soap and water or hand sanitizer and
    sneezing/coughing into your sleeve are helpful measures.

    *Can it be treated?*

    Yes. Because pertussis is a bacterial infection, antibiotic
    medications can eradicate the infection and limit the spread.
    Treatment duration depends on the antibiotic chosen. If you have a
    prolonged cough, then please consult your health care provider to
    determine if testing or treatment is warranted.

    *What should I do now?*

      * Review your immunization records to ensure that you have
        received a recent Tdap vaccination.UVM students may inquire
        about their status at Student Health Immunization (656-0602 or
        [log in to unmask]) or through their primary care
        provider’s office.Faculty and staff should make inquiry of their
        primary care office.

      * Receive a Tdap vaccination if necessary.Students should consult
        with UVM Student Health (656-3350) if they have questions or to
        schedule a nurse appointment to get vaccinated.Faculty and staff
        should consult their primary care office.

      * Tdap vaccination is especially important for anyone who works
        with or cares for infants twelve months of age and younger, as
        well as those in health care professions or training programs.**

    *When should I be seen?*

      * People who develop a prolonged cough or a cough of increasing
        severity as part of an illness that includes a runny nose,
        sneezing, low grade fever, and mild cough, should consult with
        their medical providers. Students may contact Student Health
        office at 656-3350; faculty and staff should contact their own
        health care provider.

      * If you know you were in close contact with someone who has
        pertussis, it may be appropriate to give you antibiotics to
        prevent infection.

    *Where can I get more information?*

      * More detailed information about pertussis and immunization
        recommendations can be found on the CDC’s website:
          o (

      * Information related to our local health advisory can be found on
        the Vermont Department of Health’s website:
          o (