AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The Maine Center for Disease Control has issued a new statewide alert about pertussis, or whooping cough.
The state had 300 reports of pertussis cases in 13 counties from January 1 through July 26. That's far more than the 75 cases reported during the same period in 2011 and 50 percent more than total for all of last year - 205.
The state health agency is warning physicians to be on the lookout for symptoms and potential cases and to test and treat patients to slow the spread to others. The state is also reminding physicians to keep children up to date with immunizations and to give vaccinations to adults, especially those in contact with children.
Pertussis is a highly communicable disease that causes a severe cough and can last for many weeks. It can cause serious illness and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.
Vaccination is not 100 percent effective and immunity wanes over time. However, unvaccinated children are eight times more likely to become infected with pertussis and vaccinated children who do get infected with pertussis have milder symptoms and recover more quickly, according to the CDC.
In Maine, the majority of reported cases have occurred among persons aged 7-19 years. Cases of the illness have increased nationwide. As of July 5, 37 states reported increases in pertussis compared with the same time period in 2011.
Suspected cases of pertussis should be reported to: Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.
General information on pertussis and statewide weekly surveillance reports can be found on the Maine CDC website:
MAINE CDC WHOOPING COUGH