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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 9, 2010

SCHUMER CALLS ON CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION TO USE ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCES TO AID JEFFERSON COUNTY AS IT DEALS WITH UNPRECEDENTED WHOOPING COUGH OUTBREAK

Jefferson County Has Confirmed 500 Positive Cases of Pertussis, also Known as Whooping Cough

Outbreak in NY's North Country is Among the Most Severe in Nation; Schumer Calls on CDC to Use Its Considerable Resources and Unparalleled Expertise to Help County

Schumer: Jefferson County and NYS Doing All They Can; Feds Need To Be Ready to Provide Assistance

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released a letter to Thomas R. Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking the agency to make the full range of its resources and unique expertise available to Jefferson County as it battles one of the most severe pertussis outbreaks in the nation. So far, officials in Jefferson County have confirmed  500 positive cases of the highly contagious disease, which is also known as whooping cough. Health officials in Jefferson County have been effectively managing the outbreak, but their agencies are currently stretched thin, and now Schumer has called on the CDC to use its resources to aid the county, and provide expertise and funding as necessary. 

 

“Jefferson County and New York State are doing all they can to attack this disease outbreak, but we must make sure that the full resources of the federal government and the world-renown infectious disease experts at the CDC are available to the officials on the ground at a moment’s notice,” said Schumer.   “This record setting outbreak not only threatens our civilian population, but puts our military readiness at risk by threatening the soldiers at Fort Drum.”

 

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last  for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the “100 day cough.”

 

Jefferson County has a population of approximately 118,000 and is home to many military families at Fort Drum.  Within the last few weeks, the area has seen an uncommonly large increase in the number of individuals infected with pertussis. There are now 500 cases in the county and sadly that number continues to rise—a fact that is particularly troubling because pertussis is such a highly transmissible and can affect all ages.  While we are in the midst of the holiday season, it is particularly important that this outbreak be brought under control as quickly as possible. 

 

Today in his letter, Schumer called on the CDC to provide the resources needed to combat the whooping cough outbreak in Jefferson County. In his letter Schumer urged the agency to act quickly, citing the fact that the Jefferson County outbreak is one of the most severe in the nation

 

The full text of Schumer’s letter to Director Frieden can be seen below:

 

December 9, 2010

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden

Director

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1600 Clifton Road

Atlanta, Georgia 30333

 

Dear Dr. Frieden:

 

I write today to respectfully urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be at the ready to provide any requested assistance to address the recent record-breaking outbreak of pertussis, commonly known as the whooping cough, in Jefferson County, New York.  

 

Located north of Syracuse in Upstate New York, Jefferson County has a population of approximately 118,000 and is home to many of our military families at Fort Drum.  Within the last few weeks, the area has seen an uncommonly large increase in the number of individuals infected with pertussis.  It is my understanding that there are more than 500 cases in the county and sadly that number continues to rise.  As you know, pertussis is highly transmissible and can affect all ages.  While we are in the midst of the holiday season, it is particularly important that this outbreak be brought under control as quickly as possible. 

 

I applaud the Jefferson County Public Health Service and the New York State Department of Health for their swift and efficient response to this outbreak.  The dedicated staff at both the County and State level have worked diligently to provide necessary public health services to our shared constituency.  In recognition of the coordinated efforts that have already been put into place, it is imperative that if requested, sufficient federal assistance arrive without delay.  Whether this assistance comes as financial aid, personnel, or other in-kind services, I ask that the CDC provide whatever resources the locality or New York State deem necessary to adequately address the pertussis outbreak.  It is of critical importance to the health of Jefferson County residents to act promptly to curb the spread of this disease. 

 

Please do not hesitate to contact Ariel Simon of my staff at 202-224-6542 if we can assist you in any way.  Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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