In 2009, there were only two cases of pertussis or whooping cough recorded in California’s county of San Luis Obispo. However, from two cases, this number or statistic skyrocketed to 193 cases of pertussis by the end of June 2010. This number alarmingly increased further until it was finally labeled as an epidemic in July of this year (Russ, 2010). As of mid-August, San Luis Obispo has now 293 confirmed cases of whooping cough (Chen, 2010). Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a condition affecting the respiratory tract.
The disease is normally not that serious. However, it can be dreadfully harmful and fatal for infants. This is due to the fact that infants’ airways are too small, their immune systems have not yet fully developed, and they are still too young for immunizations (Center for Disease Control, 2010). Given this fact, San Luis Obispo’s pertussis problem is indeed a matter of concern, since out of the 293 recorded cases; around eleven of these are infants barely past their first year of life (Tucker, 2010). Interventions
In Part I of this paper, it was suggested that the pertussis/whooping cough outbreak in San Luis Obispo may be credited to the lack of immunization and information of individuals. It was also established that these can be solved through health education. Intervention1: Health Education. Health education addresses the community’s knowledge deficits. It entails the provision of information about a disease, in simple terms that the community can understand. Ultimately, it aims to assist the community in appreciating the importance of such information in their health and daily lives (Free Dictionary, 2008).
Health education on pertussis can cover a wide range of topics. It can first begin with what pertussis or whooping cough is. Then, the history, pathophysiology, epidemiology, and other aspects of pertussis can be introduced. This includes how the disease began, how it affects the human body, how it can be transmitted, and others. Afterwards, the treatment/management of the disease, as well as referrals, will be discussed. Most importantly, pertussis prevention (vaccination) will be discussed and issues/concerns about these vaccines should be addressed.
Health education can be done through a series of seminars and workshops among mothers, especially. However, these seminars may also include children, guardians, other members of the family, and even health care professionals. It is important for the community health nurse to remember that pertussis is transferred through air droplets and thus, positive or suspected individuals should be isolated, or if not, given adequate reverse isolation mechanisms. Immunization 2: Epidemiologic Surveillance. Epidemiologic surveillance involves the continuous assessment and monitoring of an outbreak.
This is achieved in various ways, but mostly through the conduct of studies and continuous submission of reports and updates. Epidemiologic surveillance may include weekly meetings among concerned bodies, organizations and individuals. In these meetings, the community’s pertussis condition is monitored, and updates are communicated from the health department, to the government, to the community, to the schools, and ultimately, to families. The community health nurses’ central responsibility in epidemiologic surveillance is the creation of reports and status updates on the epidemiologic situation (Minnesota Department of Health, 2006).