With the school year rapidly approaching, it's important for parents to make sure their children's immunizations are up to date. A case of tetanus and suspected cases of pertussis (whopping cough) have recently been reported in St. Clair County, making it even more important for both children and adults to have received these and other vaccines that help prevent illnesses that are easily spread from person to person. Tetanus is not spread from person to person but is vaccine preventable. Four cases of measles have also been reported in Michigan this year.
Many childhood illnesses have become quite rare with the development and implementation of routine vaccination. Illnesses such as polio, measles and small pox have faded from our memory because of the lack of personal experience and suffering from them. In the last several years there has been a resurgence of both measles and pertussis, primarily because of small subsets of the population who remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Some of these diseases have no treatment and can cause severe complications, especially in small children. Wherever a few clustered cases exist, there is generally a larger group of infected people who are innocently spreading the infection to others.
Travelers should also make sure they are fully immunized when traveling throughout the country and to other countries. Many of these diseases remain quite prevalent in other countries and airports can be a risky environment for transmission of infection.
Therefore the St. Clair County Health Department urges residents to contact their personal physician or the health department to update their immunizations. For information on the recommended immunization schedules as well as vaccine safety and efficacy, contact the St. Clair County Health Department at 810-987-5300. Fact sheets on pertussis, measles, tetanus and other communicable diseases can be found online at www.stclaircounty.org/offices/health.
Annette Mercatante, M.D., Medical Director St. Clair County Health Dept.
August 13, 2008