ADPH investigating pertussis outbreak in Shelby, Jefferson counties

Published 2:56 pm Monday, August 6, 2018


The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Immunization Division is currently investigating a pertussis outbreak in Shelby and Jefferson counties.

ADPH has identified nine children with positive pertussis laboratory results and 22 people with pertussis-like illness linked to people who tested positive.

Persons with pertussis and PLI attended one or more of the facilities and events listed below:

  • Shades Valley Community Church, Jefferson County, June 1-July 15
  • YMCA Legacy Day Camp, Jefferson County, June 4-June 8
  • Church of the Highlands Grants Mill location, Jefferson County, June 27-July 22
  • Church of the Highlands Greystone location, Shelby County, June 28-July 19
  • YMCA Greystone, Shelby, July 4-July 14
  • Mt Laurel Elementary Summer Singers Camp, Shelby County, July 9-July 13
  • Mount Laurel Library, Shelby County, July 16
  • WinShape Camp at Double Oak Community Church, Shelby County, July 16-July 20

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease, which is immediately reportable in Alabama.

Pertussis begins with symptoms such as a runny nose, low grade fever and cough. After a week or two of illness, pertussis progresses to violent coughing, making it difficult for those infected to breathe. After fits of many coughs, people with the illness often need to take deep breaths that result in a “whooping” sound.

The department is asking any person who attended gatherings or events at one or more of the facilities above during the specified time frames listed and has symptoms or develops symptoms by Aug. 8 to contact your primary physician to be tested and treated, and to complete the ADPH Pertussis Questionnaire, Immunization Division will follow up with those who match with PLI within the time frame.

“Patients should be aware that pertussis is a serious disease that can affect people of all ages. It can even be deadly for babies less than a year old. That is why it is especially important for everyone to be up to date on their pertussis vaccine with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) or Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), which is required for school entry,” said Dr. Burnestine Taylor, Medical Director for Disease Control and Prevention, ADPH.

About half of the ill people are not up to date with all recommended vaccines. Some families have been identified as not vaccinating their children at all.

The number of pertussis cases in Alabama continues to increase. Immunization data reveals an increase from 151 reported cases in 2017, to 172 reported cases thus far in 2018.

During vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, Immunization Division staff contact those with PLI or positive lab results, educate families, assess vaccine status, and collect specimens for testing, when appropriate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the only prevention against pertussis disease is DTaP or Tdap vaccine. All family members should be up to date on all CDC, Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices, and American Academy of Pediatrics recommended vaccine. Pregnant women should be vaccinated with Tdap during each pregnancy as a way to protect infants.

For more information on signs and symptoms of pertussis, or vaccination information, visit the division’s Facebook page Alabama Immunization Info at