-- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that America is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of reported pertussis cases in 50 years
-- The Breathing Room, the Campaign's new Facebook application, helps parents encourage family and friends to get the adult pertussis vaccine
Actress and mother of two Sarah Michelle Gellar is joining March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur on the Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign to help raise awareness about pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and the importance of adult vaccination. Pertussis is on the rise across the U.S., and infants and young children may be most vulnerable.
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"The reality is that parents, grandparents and other family members may unknowingly spread pertussis to the babies in their lives," said Sarah Michelle Gellar. "That's why I was vaccinated and so was my family to help protect ourselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to my two children. Now, as the National Sounds of Pertussis Campaign Ambassador I'm urging adults everywhere to do the same."
Pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children. In 2012, there were more than 41,000 reported pertussis cases and 18 deaths in the U.S., with more than 83 percent of deaths occurring in infants younger than 12 months of age. Infants are particularly vulnerable to pertussis because they don't begin receiving their own vaccinations until they are two months old and may not be protected until they have received at least three doses of the infant DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) vaccine. Researchers found that in cases where it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to the baby up to 80 percent of the time. More specifically, parents were responsible up to 50 percent of the time.
"Immunity from early childhood pertussis vaccinations wears off after about five to 10 years, meaning even adults who were immunized as children may no longer be protected," said Siobhan M. Dolan, M.D., medical advisor to March of Dimes. "The best way for adults to help protect themselves and to help prevent the spread of the disease is to ensure they are vaccinated."
Gellar is encouraging parents of infants everywhere to use the Campaign's new Facebook application – the Breathing Room – that allows parents to send a brief message to family and friends in their Facebook network asking them to make the pledge to be vaccinated against pertussis before meeting the newborn in their life. Parents can personalize their own Breathing Room and help keep track of who in their child's circle of care has been, or pledges to be, vaccinated against this potentially fatal disease by populating their baby's virtual nursery with pictures of their family and friends from their Facebook network.
To learn more about the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, please visit soundsofpertussis.com. The website provides resources and educational tools, including information on the new Breathing Room Facebook app. Build a Breathing Room at soundsofpertussis.com/BreathingRoom.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children. In adolescents and adults it is usually presented as a severe cough that may last for weeks and even months. Pertussis is caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, found in the mouth, nose and throat of the person with the disease; it is spread through contact with respiratory droplets generated when that person coughs or sneezes. Pertussis disease can be treated with antibiotics. If caught early enough, antibiotic treatment may help lessen disease severity. Antibiotic therapy also helps reduce transmission and is important for disease control.
About the Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign
The Sounds of Pertussis® Campaign is a national education campaign from March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur to help raise awareness about the potential dangers of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and the importance of adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination.
Started in 2009, the Campaign continues to help educate parents, grandparents, caregivers and others in close contact with infants about the importance of getting vaccinated with the adult Tdap vaccine to help protect themselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to infants.
Sanofi, an integrated global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please contact Michael Szumera, (570-957-1566) for Sanofi Pasteur U.S. Media Relations or visit sanofipasteur.com or sanofipasteur.us.