Pertussis hits Brown County

NEW ULM – More than 20 cases of Pertussis “whooping cough” have been reported in Brown County in the past few weeks, according to the Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz.

Moritz will report about the outbreak in her Public Health Update to Brown County commissioners at today’s meeting.

“Local healthcare providers, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and our department have been working closely to do what we can to limit the spread,” Moritz wrote in her update. “The illness is annoying but tolerated fairly well by healthy persons, but can be very serious or even fatal to infants and anyone with underlying respiratory conditions.”

Moritz added that each case and the case’s close contacts are treated with antibiotics by heath care providers. Ill persons are asked to voluntarily isolate for five days after the antibiotic starts to prevent the spread to others.

The MDH investigates each case and does additional education with the family, she wrote. “Our department has reached out to all daycare centers and home daycare providers with information about the disease and urged all daycare employees to make sure they have the Tdap booster vaccine,” Moritz wrote. “We updated school nurses with more information. The best way to prevent pertussis is for all children to be fully vaccinated on time, for adolescents and adults to get a booster shot, and for women to be vaccinated during each pregnancy.”

Moritz said the vaccine provides immunity for 80 to 85 percent of the population for a period of time. “The vaccine doesn’t provide long-lasting immunity, so we’ll see cases from time to time,” she added. “The state has been involved in nearly 600 cases this year.”

The public health update added:

New electronic (e) cigarette laws prohibit sales from kiosks as of Aug. 1, for any contracts entered into after May 1, and as of Jan. 1, 2015 for contracts in effect as of May 1.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, e-cigarette liquids sold in Minnesota require child-resistant packages, e-cigarettes must be taxes as tobacco products and retailers can’t sell them to minors.

Moritz said Minnesota cities and counties may adopt more e-cigarette provisions. She said Mankato, Waseca, Duluth, Ely and Beltrami County have already adopted local ordinances prohibiting e-cigarette use in public places.

Three Brown County Public Health Staff are now trained as Certified MNCHOICE assessors.

A new, interactive website to help prevent youth mental health issues is

The MDH launched a new website addressing synthetic drug use and how parents can become aware and talk to their children about them. Visit for more information.

The county board meeting starts at 9 a.m. today in the courthouse commissioners room. County board budget sessions will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 20, 21 and at 1 p.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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