An increase in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn has prompted New York City health officials to issue an advisory regarding this vaccine-preventable disease.

Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills
Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills

According to The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Friday, from October 2014 through April 2015, 21 cases of pertussis have been confirmed, including 18 children and 3 adults.

Among the children, 12 were unvaccinated, 2 were vaccinated but not up to date with pertussis-containing vaccine; the remaining 4 were appropriately vaccinated. Among the children, 10 were infants aged <12 months.

None of the mothers of the infants with pertussis had documentation of having received the recommended tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination during their most recent pregnancy. Two infants were hospitalized, of which one had pneumonia.

Related: Shigella Outbreak Strikes 43 In Brooklyn Jewish Community In Past Month

Health officials offers the following advice to All Primary Care, Infectious Disease, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, and Infection Control Staff: Make sure all patients are up to date with DTaP and Tdap vaccines; Vaccinate pregnant women with Tdap during every pregnancy; Report suspect cases; Follow droplet precautions; Obtain optimal specimens for diagnostic testing and Provide antibiotic treatment and/or post-exposure prophylaxis.

Vaccination remains the best way to prevent pertussis or “whooping cough”; the routine immunization schedule is available at

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can cause serious illness in infants, children, and adults. The illness begins with nonspecific upper respiratory symptoms that last for 7-10 days, followed by onset of cough. The classic pertussis cough includes persistent paroxysms (coughing fits), an inspiratory “whoop”, apnea, and/or post-tussive vomiting. Cough may last weeks to months if not treated early.

Related: New York City: 4th case of neonatal herpes due to ritual Jewish circumcision reported this year