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Whooping cough activity increases in Nye County

Nye County health officials have sent a letter directed at area senior citizens on getting up to date on a vaccine for whooping cough, which can have serious effects for the county’s older population and babies less than a year old.

An increase in activity in Nye County, both northern and southern, in pertussis (whooping cough) since September 2017 was denoted in a letter on Monday from Nye County Health Officer Maureen Budahl.

“Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old and older adults,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, pertussis can cause “uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. After cough fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a whooping sound.”

Southern Nye County has had a total of 15 cases since the fall of 2017 through June 11, 2018. The range of ages for affected individuals starts from two months old and goes up to 62 years of age, according to a Nye County spokesman.

In the letter, it was stated that “whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease.”

“It is caused by the bacteria that are transmitted when a person with pertussis coughs and you breathe in that air,” the letter stated.

The best way to be protected is to get vaccinated, according to the letter.

“Nye County’s immunization rates for Tdap are very low,” said Arnold Knightly, a Nye County spokesman. This is especially true for people of ages 60-62, he said.

The average number of people vaccinated with Tdap within Pahrump zip codes is approximately 30 percent, according to Knightly.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults who never received a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough) vaccine as a preteen get one dose of Tdap, which would boost protection against getting whooping cough, according to the Nye County letter.

“You can have a whooping cough vaccination at any time, even if you have recently had a tetanus shot,” the letter stated. “Tdap is a vaccine that has been in use for many years and is a very safe vaccine.”

The CDC warns that there are some individuals who should not receive the Tdap vaccination: those who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past or have a severe allergy to any part of the vaccine, among other reasons listed on the CDC’s website. For further guidance, visit cdc.gov or consult a physician.

Opportunities to get vaccinated in Pahrump are available.

“There will be a no-cost Tdap opportunity June 26 in Pahrump with the Mobile Dental Clinic,” Knightly said.

That event is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 26 at the Nye Communities Coalition campus at 1020 E. Wilson Road and is for both children and adults.

Parents and individuals should bring picture identification, insurance cards or proof of income for uninsured, immunization records and applicable adoption/legal guardian custody agreements, according to a flyer on the event.

For more information, contact the Pahrump Community Health Nurse at 775-751-7074 or Nye County Health and Human Services at 775-751-7059.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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