With more than 700 pertussis cases reported in Colorado since the first of the year, the chief medical officer for the state Department of Public Health and Environment urged citizens this week to get vaccinated against the disease. Here are the details.
* Pertussis is described as a bacterial infection within the respiratory tract that is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The illness begins with sneezing, a runny nose and mild cough, but becomes more severed during the first week or two. The cough may last a couple of months.
* According to state information, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 11, 715 cases of pertussis were reported in Colorado. The average from 2007-2011 of the same calendar period was 158 cases.
* The highest rates of pertussis this year are among infants under 6 months old, followed by infants 6 to 11 months old, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported.
* Chief medical officer Dr. Chris Urbina stated that infants are particularly susceptible to pertussis and tend to have higher rates of hospitalization and deaths from the disease.
* Young infants with pertussis often do not present with a cough, but rather with apnea or gasping, the CDPHE stated.
* No deaths have been reported due to pertussis in 2012, the CDPHE reported, but it is recommended that those who care for infants and spend time around infants get vaccinated as infants are too young to have received all the doses of the vaccination.
* According to the state's fact sheet on the disease, the vaccine for pertussis is given in combination with vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus. The recommendation for the vaccination is that a total of five doses be given at two, four, six, 15 to 18 months, and between four to six years. Single doses are recommended for children 11 to 12 years of age or for those who have never received the vaccination.
* The majority of the Colorado pertussis cases this year have been reported in Adams, Denver and Jefferson counties, according to the CDPHE, though -- as of Aug. 20 -- the disease has been reported in 26 counties in all.
* The most active week of the disease this year was the week of Aug. 11, in which nearly 60 cases were reported. The number of cases has been increasing each week since July.
* According to the CDPHE's study of vaccine preventable diseases in Colorado from 2002-2012, most complete years don't see as many reports of pertussis as there have been just through August of this year. 2004 and 2005 appeared to be particularly hard-hit with 1,185 and 1,383 cases, respectively.