October 13, 2005

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3651

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In an effort to stop the spread of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, UNM Hospital will be giving its first doses of Tdap, the recently approved vaccine that protects adolescents from pertussis.

"This is so remarkable, this is the first time we are able to manage the spread of whooping cough through teenagers," said Randall Knott, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics.

Although, symptoms of whooping cough in adults and teens are rarely recognized, the infected can unknowingly pass the disease to infants, in who it can be deadly. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection and immunity from childhood vaccination against it wanes over time leaving adolescents susceptible.

In 2003, U.S. adolescents (ages 11-18) made up 36 percent of reported pertussis cases. Knott also added that the prevalence of pertussis is at a 30 year high. In 1976, there were 1,000 reported cases and in 2004, it was up to 20,000 cases.

The Tdap vaccine was approved by the FDA two months ago and the Centers for Disease Control have provided guidelines on dispensing and administering the shot.