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April 29, 2011

For More Information, Contact:

  • Kristin Harmon, Sullivan County (TN) Regional Health Department, 423-279-2790
  • Robert Parker, Virginia Department of Health, Western Region, 540-381-7100, x151 or 540-580-2960
  • Beth Rader, Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office, 423-979-4591


(BLOUNTVILLE, Tn.) – Yesterday, the Mountain Empire Epidemiology Task Force conducted a continuing education conference titled “Pertussis Update - Preventing Whooping Cough Outbreaks.” Pertussis has been on the rise in recent years, increasing 72 percent in Virginia from 2009 to 2010, and nearly tripling in Tennessee between 2007 and 2010. More than 40 family practice providers, pediatricians, hospital emergency room clinicians, obstetricians and gynecologists, nurse practitioners and nurses discussed the clinical aspects of pertussis and public health preparedness and response to outbreaks, including the recent outbreak that sickened more than 30 people in Floyd County, Virginia. The conference was held at the Sullivan County Health Department in Blountville, Tennessee.

“Early treatment of pertussis is very important,” said Frank Fischer, Jr., M.D., of Holston Medical Group Pediatrics. ”If treatment is started early, symptoms may be lessened. But if the patient is diagnosed late, antibiotics will not alter the course of the illness.”

“When pertussis cases are confirmed, public health works to assure appropriate management of the patient and his or her contacts,” said Kelly Moore, M.D., medical director of the immunization program at the Tennessee Department of Health. Dr. Moore also offered several “pearls” of pertussis prevention, noting that “pertussis is prevalent and prevention is imperfect. The primary goal is to protect infants.”

This conference was produced by the Mountain Empire Epidemiology Task Force, a voluntary association of health departments in Tennessee and Virginia that work to bring attention to epidemiological concerns of regional interest. Speakers also included Lee Ricketts of Sanofi-Pasteur, which co-sponsored the event.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pertussis home page, at

Or call the following public health agencies:

  • Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office - 423-979-4591
  • Sullivan County (TN) Regional Health Department - 423-279-2790
  • Virginia Department of Health
  • Cumberland Plateau Health District, Lebanon -276-889-7621
  • Lenowisco Health District, Wise - 276-328-8000
  • Mt. Rogers Health District, Marion - 276-781-7450

Last Updated: 07-30-2011

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