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HEALTH Reports Update on Barrington Pertussis Outbreak

On December 22, HEALTH received a report from a Barrington pediatrician that a student had been diagnosed with pertussis. As of today, there have been 21 cases of pertussis confirmed in Barrington. The number of confirmed cases in Rhode Island is consistent with outbreaks occurring nationally and regionally in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts.

Due to the outbreak and after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HEALTH hosted vaccination clinics as an ongoing effort to prevent the further spread of pertussis in the Barrington community. Anyone who was unable to get vaccinated at the clinic and needs to be vaccinated should contact his or her healthcare provider.

HEALTH is continuing to work with school officials to assess student immunization coverage rates and identify students with symptoms who require treatment and close contacts at home who may need antibiotics to prevent infection (prophylaxis).

"Vaccination is the best prevention against pertussis," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "We are continuing to work with the healthcare providers and Barrington community to prevent the further spread of pertussis. In general, a pertussis outbreak will slow down and eventually stop once immunity, either through vaccination or infection, has been established in the community. Our work focuses on increasing vaccination rates, particularly in adults and adolescents, and preventing transmission to vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, infants, and those with weakened immune systems."

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease that is also known as whooping cough. It is highly contagious and caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs. People with suspected or confirmed diagnosis of pertussis should stay out of work, school, or childcare until they have been on antibiotics for at least five days. HEALTH receives reports of about 60 cases of pertussis each year.

For more information about pertussis visit the Department of Health website.

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