Correction from earlier email: This is a health advisory, not a health alert. We apologize for any confusion.

Health Advisory (HAN) — April 4, 2023

For more information, please contact:

Jackson County Health Department

Epidemiology Division

[email protected] | (816) 404-9898

Health Advisory: Possible Pertussis in Eastern Jackson County

Good afternoon —

The Jackson County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Epidemiology Program would like to bring your attention to a recent report shared with us regarding potential pertussis cases linked to Eastern Jackson County.

These cases were first seen in December 2022. New potential cases have appeared in neighboring counties (both in Kansas and Missouri), from individuals who attended church in Eastern Jackson County on Sundays.

We are asking for your assistance in identifying and testing potential cases and reporting positive findings to Jackson County's Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Program by emailing us at

 [email protected]

Recommendations for Healthcare Providers:


Consider pertussis, a highly communicable disease that affects the respiratory tract, if clients are presenting:

  • In classic cases, with a runny nose, mild cough, and low-grade fever (the catarrhal stage), which progresses to paroxysmal spasms of severe coughing, inspirational “whooping”, and post-tussive vomiting.
  • The duration of cough for classic pertussis is 6 to10 weeks. Approximately half of adolescents with pertussis cough for 10 weeks or longer. Pertussis has been called the “the 100-day cough”.
  • Pertussis may also present as a mild to moderate cough illness in people who are partially immune, which makes diagnosis more elusive to clinicians and can result in unrecognized cases.
  • Fever, if present, is usually mild. Symptoms appear between six to twenty-one days (average 7-10) after exposure to the pertussis bacteria.
  • Among older children and adults, the disease usually results in symptoms that can be mistaken for bronchitis and Upper Respiratory Infections (persistent cough, but no whoop).
  • In infants younger than 6 months, apnea is a common manifestation and whoop may be absent.
  • It is important to remember that while pertussis is most often considered a young child's disease, it can occur at any age and should be considered in older children and adults who have a persistent cough lasting more than 7-14 days that cannot be attributed to another specific illness.
  • Untreated, these older children and adults can act as a reservoir for pertussis disease and infect younger children.

Laboratory Criteria for Diagnosis

  •  Isolation of B. pertussis from a clinical specimen
  •  Positive PCR for pertussis  


Pertussis is treated with antibiotics and patients are advised to take all prescribed medication and avoid contact with anyone, particularly small infants and children. Anyone who is exposed to pertussis should also be given antibiotics to prevent the disease.


The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization. The best way to reduce the incidence of pertussis is to have a highly vaccinated population. This should be accomplished through physicians' offices and public health clinics.

  • The childhood vaccine is called DTap. Five doses of DTaP at ages 2, 4, 6, 12-18 months and 4-6 years are recommended.
  • The pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. All adolescents and adults are encouraged to get one lifetime dose of the booster vaccine. 

 For more information on Pertussis, laboratory testing, treatment and immunization recommendations, please visit Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at


Categories of Health Alert Network messages:


Health Alert- provides vital, time-sensitive information for a specific incident or situation; warrants immediate action or attention by health officials, laboratorians, clinicians, and members of the public; and conveys the highest level of importance.


Health Advisory- provides important information for a specific incident or situation; contains recommendations or actionable items to be performed by public health officials, laboratorians, and/or clinicians; may not require immediate action.


Health Update- provides updated information regarding an incident or situation; unlikely to require immediate action.


HAN Info Service- provides general public health information; unlikely to require immediate action.


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The Jackson County Health Department’s mission is to offer services, provide programs and advocate for policies so that all people have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy. Find more information about how the health department is fostering a community where all people can live their healthiest lives at