Adults to blame for Vt. pertussis outbreak - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Adults to blame for Vt. pertussis outbreak

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Young mom Lynn Camara spent Thursday afternoon with her 3-year-old son, Abraham, inside his pediatrician's office.

"I was concerned that there was so much pertussis going around and there were some undiagnosed or unconfirmed I should say cases at his preschool," Camara said.

So far this year, the Vermont Health Department has confirmed 522 cases of pertussis across the state, a tenfold increase from last year.

"It's definitely on the rise," said Dr. Joseph Hagan, a Burlington pediatrician. "I mean, this is something we have been concerned about for some time."

The staggering stats and a bad cold and cough led to Abraham getting checked out. While he didn't get a whooping cough diagnosis, doctors think it is likely he was exposed to the disease and have issued an action plan.

"We're going to go ahead and treat the ear infection and for pertussis with an antibiotic," Camara said.

"This year we have diagnosed maybe a half a dozen kids, which isn't a tremendous number, but we have treated kids who are exposed in very huge numbers," Hagan said.

Thursday, the Vt. Health Department pointed to folks over the age of 19 as a major part of the problem. They say many of the kids who are showing up sick at school or day care with pertussis are getting it from adults whose childhood vaccinations have become less effective and have avoided an adult booster.

Next week, the department will sponsor free pertussis clinics across the state with hopes of getting older folks to roll up their sleeves.

"People who are vaccinated are very likely to have less severe illness and to be less likely to transmit pertussis to people around them," said Patsy Kelso, the state epidemiologist for infectious disease.

Camara says her family is not taking any chances-- it's up to date with vaccines and is keeping the doctor's office on call.

"I just wanted to cover my bases and make sure that he was OK," she said.

Right now, health officials are only suggesting adults get a one-time dose after the age of 19.

The health department is offering the free pertussis vaccines Dec. 19 at all of its offices across the state.

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