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Health Alert

Kentucky Health Alert: Increase in Pertussis in Kentucky

The Kentucky Department for Public Health has identified an increase in pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” in the Commonwealth. Since April 2024, at least 39 cases of pertussis have been identified across the state. Most cases have occurred in school-aged children, and many were up to date on pertussis vaccination. Immunity is known to lessen over time, making it imperative to stay fully vaccinated at any age.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis.  Symptoms of this disease start out like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and mild cough or fever.  However, after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing can begin, and unlike the common cold, pertussis can lead to a series of coughing fits that continue for weeks.  At times, these coughing fits can be violent and rapid, causing a loud “whooping” sound when trying to inhale.  This illness easily spreads from person to person through the air in tiny droplets from the nose and throat, which are formed when people with the disease cough or sneeze. With an increase in pertussis activity in Kentucky, the Bullitt County Health Department wants to encourage all persons to be fully immunized against this illness.  Particularly:

  • Women of childbearing age:  All women of childbearing age should be vaccinated with Tdap.

  • Infants (start vaccination at 2 months of age for protection)

  • Close contacts of infants (especially parents, grandparents, and childcare providers) 

  • Health care personnel: particularly those who have direct contact with infants and pregnant women.


Please do your part in preventing the spread of pertussis by hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and ensuring vaccinations are up to date. While vaccination cannot prevent all cases of pertussis, it can reduce severity, making hospitalization among vaccinated individuals rare. If you need additional information or have more questions about your vaccination status, please call us at 502-955-7837.

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