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Stroudsburg Area Seeing a Whooping Cough Outbreak | WDIY Local News

Pennsylvania Department of Health

The Pennsylvania Department of Health warned of an outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in a press release this week. Several people in the Stroudsburg area, particularly students, have reported being sick with whooping cough.

The upper respiratory disease is highly contagious and especially dangerous for young children and infants. It was one of the biggest causes of childhood mortality and one of the most common childhood diseases before a vaccine was made available in the 1940s. Half of infants who catch whooping cough today will be hospitalized.

According to the CDC, the illness is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordatella pertussis, which attach to the upper respiratory system. This bacteria releases toxins that damage the lining of the upper respiratory tract and cause swelling of the airways.

Like many other sicknesses that we’re trying to avoid this time of year, the germs spread through the air from person to person. When someone who’s infected with pertussis sneezes or coughs, small particles with bacteria are released and can be breathed in by other people. It can also be spread by spending a lot of time with someone who’s sick, or by sharing close space.

Jennifer Janco, MD, Chairman of Pediatrics at St. Luke’s, offered some tips to avoid the recent outbreak. She suggests staying vaccinated, which is particularly important for pregnant mothers, since newborns can’t start receiving pertussis vaccines until they reach two months of age.

She also recommended keeping an eye on symptoms and avoiding contact with others. If an individual has symptoms similar to pertussis or has been exposed to someone with the sickness, they should contact a primary care doctor or pediatrician. It’s recommended to avoid going to an ER or urgent care center first, as this could infect others.

And if someone is infected with pertussis or is waiting for test results to confirm, they should isolate for five days after starting antibiotics. Doctor notes can be provided for work or school as needed.

Symptoms can look similar to the flu, Covid, or a common cold, so contacting a healthcare provider for guidance is recommended.

More information can be found on the CDC’s website.

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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