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October 16, 2007

U-M pediatrician, actress Keri Russell help launch national pertussis education campaign

“Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” Campaign created to protect kids from deadly, but vaccine-preventable disease

Washington D.C. Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDs) today announced the launch of its national educational campaign “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” with actress and new mom Keri Russell. 

Gary Freed, M.D.The campaign sounds the alarm about the dangers of pertussis and alerts parents to the need for everyone coming into close contact with young babies, especially family members, to be vaccinated against pertussis to prevent transmission of the disease.  On the rise, pertussis is a highly contagious and potentially deadly bacterial infection that is particularly dangerous for babies.

Commonly known as whooping cough, pertussis is marked by the “whoop” sound made when gasping for breath after a severe coughing attack.  Coughing can last for weeks and can be so severe that it is hard for babies to eat, drink or breathe.  In recent years, more than half of babies infected with pertussis were hospitalized, and 90% of pertussis-associated deaths have been among babies less than six month old.

“It is so important for parents to know that they can help to protect their babies against pertussis by getting vaccinated themselves,” said Trish Parnell, director of PKIDs.  “Research shows that half of the babies infected with pertussis were exposed by their parents, while 90% of unvaccinated children living with someone who has the disease can become infected.”

“Like any parent, I would do anything to protect my baby, and that is why I followed my pediatrician’s recommendation to get the pertussis vaccine myself,” said Keri Russell, award-winning television actress and new mom.  “I am very excited to be working with PKIDs to spread the word and help other parents learn how to best protect their babies from this deadly but preventable disease.”

Russell gives voice to the “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” campaign through a national public service announcement, which begins airing in October 2007.  The campaign includes a brochure for parents to learn about pertussis and a guide for talking about important health questions with the pediatrician.  Information about “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” as well as educational materials about preventing and managing pertussis are available on PKIDs’ website at www.pkids.org.

“Because immunity from early childhood vaccination decreases over time, adults and teens can become infected with pertussis repeatedly and transmit the disease unknowingly,” said Gary Freed, M.D., director of the Division of General Pediatrics at University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and the chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.  “A parent, grandparent or babysitter suffering from what seems like a cold can actually have pertussis and spread the disease to an infant.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that adolescents and all adults aged 19-64, particularly those who have close contact with a baby, be vaccinated with a single Tdap booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.  The ACIP also recommends the Tdap booster to protect adolescents between 11 and 18 years.  In addition, vaccination is recommended for healthcare workers to help prevent the spread of infection to their patients.

Pertussis is the only infectious disease for which children are routinely immunized that is on the rise.  In 1976, a record low of 1,010 cases were reported compared to 25,000 by 2004. Often misdiagnosed as a cold, pertussis may be vastly underreported.  In 2004, more than 25,000 cases were reported, but the number of annual cases may be nearly one million.  To be fully protected against pertussis, every child needs to get five doses of the DTaP vaccine by age seven.  Pertussis is spread through droplets from the mouth and nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

“The mission of PKIDs is to educate the public about effective disease prevention practices,” said Parnell.  “With the “Silence the Sounds of Pertussis” campaign, PKIDs hopes to prevent the spread of pertussis from adults to children, so we can forever silence that horrible sound of a baby gasping for air.”

About PKIDs
PKIDs (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) is a national non-profit organization that supports families touched by infectious diseases.  It also educates the public about effective disease prevention through the use of immunizations, standard precautions, handwashing and other strategies. http://www.pkids.org

To learn more about U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, visit www.mottchildrenshospital.org

For more information about pertussis, visit cdc.gov

Written by PKIDs

 

 

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