LISBON - With cases of whooping cough on the rise, the Columbiana County Health Department is urging parents to get their children vaccinated against the contagious disease.
"The best way we can prevent the spread of disease and illness is vaccination," Health Commissioner Wes Vins said.
The topic came up Wednesday during the monthly meeting for the county health board.
With students across the county on the eve of returning to school, Vins noted the nursing staff was working on administering vaccinations to children.
In California, he said cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, increased 418 percent in the period from Jan. 1 to June 30 when compared with the same time period in 2009.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Web site at www.cdc.gov, the numbers increased from 258 cases for the first six months in 2009 to 1,337 cases for the first six months in 2010 in the state of California where they've declared a pertussis epidemic.
Looking at Columbiana County's numbers, Vins said the number of cases increased from one in 2009 to nine so far in 2010. He explained those numbers didn't reflect whether the patients were children or adults.
He wanted to make parents aware that they can get their child vaccinated for free at the health department by calling 330-424-0272 for an appointment. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free vaccines are available for children up to 18 years old.
"Our biggest concern with pertussis is the children," he said.
Pertussis is defined as a very contagious disease that can cause serious illness. According to the CDC Web site, pertussis "starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing begins. Infants and children with the disease cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they're forced to inhale with a loud 'whooping' sound."
The Ohio Department of Health added the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus and diptheria (Td) booster as a requirement for seventh graders for this school year.
An ODH press release said cases of pertussis nearly doubled in Ohio between 2008 and 2009, increasing from 628 cases to 1,096 cases. More information about immunization requirements can be found on the ODH Web site at www.odh..ohio.gov.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org