Background: In the fall of 2007, Creighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (SPAHP) experienced a Pertussis outbreak. The outbreak mainly involved the third year pharmacy class, with additional documented cases among faculty members. Occupational and Physical Therapy groups were also surveyed.
Objectives: The group was surveyed about experiences and opinions relative to the Pertussis outbreak, its management, and about subsequent decisions to obtain Tdap immunization. The survey also queried on respondents’ contact with vulnerable populations.
Methods: An online survey was administered to SPAHP students, faculty, and staff. The survey utilized an initial email invitation and three reminders over one month. CDC criteria were utilized to define probable and confirmed cases of Pertussis.
Results: There was an overall 60% survey response rate; with 63% (69/109) of the pharmacy class of 2009 responding. Six percent (29) of total respondents met initial CDC criteria for probable pertussis during the outbreak period, based on reported characteristics and duration of symptoms. Six (21%) of this group reported a laboratory confirmed diagnosis of pertussis. Seventy-five percent (282/375) of total pharmacy students and faculty reported patient contact. The Tdap vaccination rate for pharmacy students was 23% (72/309) prior to the outbreak. Initiation of a student Tdap mandate was associated with an 80% (247/309) rate one year later. The reported vaccination rate was 56% (37/66) for pharmacy faculty, who had no mandate.
Conclusions: This report documents extensive patient contact reported by pharmacy survey respondents; both faculty and students. The survey identified that a substantial proportion of probable Pertussis cases went undetected during the period of outbreak management. Issues were identified that should be addressed to provide optimal protection of patient groups exposed to health professions students and practitioners.
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