Maine CDC Press Release

September 7, 2007

Maine CDC Manages Whooping Cough in Portland

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH (207)-287-3270
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012

PORTLAND – The Maine Center of Disease Control, an Office of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, announced Thursday that it is investigating and controlling a cluster of whooping cough in Portland and its northern suburbs.

Whooping cough, which is also called Pertussis, is a respiratory infection that can cause a persistent, severe cough, especially in infants, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC.

Earlier this week, state officials were notified that an infant was hospitalized in Portland with Pertussis. The subsequent epidemiological investigation resulted in identifying 10 others who had symptoms and needed treatment. Most of those identified were children and some were unvaccinated. Another 80 close contacts are being notified that they may need preventive antibiotics. Four schools, a day care and two sports teams are involved with this Pertussis cluster.

“We have been in close contact with the school nurses, day care provider and team coaches to make sure that all affected parents and children are appropriately notified,” Mills said. “We are sending notices home to parents of these schools, sports teams and day cares to provide those parents with guidance and to answer their questions.”

In addition, Maine CDC has notified the health care community through its Health Alert Network. The Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory is also conducting the tests on several dozen people. Mills said Maine CDC’s immunization program is making sure adequate vaccine supplies are available in the Greater Portland area.

“This cluster is a reminder for all parents to make sure our children’s vaccines are updated,” Mills said. “By a child’s second birthday, they should have received four vaccines protecting against Pertussis, a booster between ages 4-6 and another booster after age 11.”

Pertussis is a respiratory disease caused by bacteria. Although it can start out appearing much like a common cold, it can progress to a persistent cough that is characterized by bursts of numerous rapid coughs followed by an inhalation (“whoop”). Infants are at highest risk for severe infection. A critical strategy to protect young infants is to make sure that all our children are vaccinated, since often times infants catch the infection from older unvaccinated children.

Those with symptoms or concerns about Pertussis should contact their health care provider. Additional information is available at: http://www.mainepublichealth.gov and http://www.cdc.gov.