WESTFIELD- The Board of Health was informed Dec. 11 that whooping cough has been detected in Westfield.
Supervising Public Health Nurse Debra Mulvenna spoke to the Board of Health Wednesday to inform them that the highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract is now in Westfield. She did not specify how many possible cases there were, but did indicate that this outbreak of the disease likely originated in Southwick.
“There have been a lot of cases in Southwick and they thought that maybe the place where it was all coming from was the school,” said Mulvenna, “But then we got spillover into Westfield with cases of whooping cough.”
She added that not all of the cases are confirmed, but are suspected.
All of those who were infected thus far have been children under the age of five. According to Mulvenna, none of the infected children had been immunized against the infection.
She indicated that there was a “common thread” between all of the cases, but that she did not yet have the authority to share what that thread is due to medical confidentiality.
“If we get more cases, then I can discuss it further, but we are not at that threshold yet,” said Mulvenna. “But they have all been in a certain community. They have not spilled over into others yet.” She added that the patients all appeared to have gone to the same doctor’s office.
Board of Health member and Nurse Practitioner Juanita Carnes said that she had not yet seen any cases of whooping cough in her emergency room.
The most major symptom of whooping cough, as the name suggests, is a violent, persistent cough. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, the infection first presents itself with a runny nose, a mild cough, and for babies, a pause in their breathing.
As the infection progresses, the cough becomes more violent and persistent, and one may struggle to breathe after having a coughing fit.
The infection is most dangerous for children, but it can be fatal for anyone.
By the time a child is five-years-old the CDC recommendation is that they have been vaccinated for whooping cough five times with the DTaP vaccine.
Due to the respiratory nature of the infection, it can easily spread from person to person through the air.